This Japanese Antique 18th c. Edo Period netsuke with a compass or konpasu, 範囲, is very rare. The Edo period spanned from 1603 – 1868. This netsuke is from the 1700's portion of the Edo period, although we do not know exactly which part. It has a recent interesting history which I shared below. The netsuke is small, it could be used as either a netsuke or ojime on a sagemono, The wood is nice bamboo that has been flame colored. The miniature compass is in what is called the compass card and is marked N-E-S-W hand painted in black letters on bronze. The compass card is bronze and the cover is some type of plastic, thin enough to see inside but sturdy. It is magnet tested, the only thing a magnet moves is the pointer. It is a very good 18th-century condition as you can see from our pictures.
Brent and I questioned the lettering for the age, and can only assume it was traded with someone in Britain during that time, or, was set in the netsuke at a later time, that we do not know. We did purchase it from Britain, and they have traded with Japan since the 1600's. The small dots on the bamboo are absolutely normal and part of the bamboo aging process. All the letters are clear on the compass, and the cover can be seen through just fine, there is just one little foggy spot. It is 200+ years old, so there are some age wear and some discoloring to the inside of the compass. The pointer still moves and it is accurate, although it is a little crooked, appears to be tin held with a spot of bronze or brass. I would imagine due to its age and for a case made for this very special piece is all bronze. The himotoshi are age and netsuke size appropriate. The cord is not usual netsuke cord just something I purchased to add but not as thick. Please see our funny story below. My pictures are a little dark, I have others that show the flame color better and it is very pretty. A very nice friend and geologist commented on the netsuke today so eloquently, and which we just learned; I will share as he taught us and quote:
quote: 'It appears to be bamboo that has been very skillfully flame-coloured ,as only a Japanese Craftsman can do ! --- That is a very tricky thing to Master. I think these are not age spots but the shrinking, either induced or from dryness due to age, of the main longitudinal fibers that give Bamboo it's incredible versatility in skilled hands. This is something that the Japanese understand extremely well.
I found a few translations and information about flame coloring, it is literally using a flame to color wood with, and unless there is a shorter more specific way to say it, it translates to "日本の竹を燃やしますNihon no take o moyashimasu" in Japanese. This was something the Japanese discovered was a miraculous way to create a beautiful colored wood.
SIZE: Diameter 3/4" or 1.90 cm, Height 1/2" or 1.27 cm, yes it is small but exquisite and rare
The Miracle Netsuke 奇跡 根付
I purchased this is April 2014, It did not get mailed with a tracking number, but it was mailed the same week I purchased it. I trusted the dealer had sent as he said and touched base a few times to see if it was returned to him. I did not want to file the insurance claim because I wanted to get the netsuke, if the postal service ever surfaced it. It arrived today on September 9th. 2015. My heart skipped a beat when I saw the package because I was not expecting anything from the UK in a small package. I looked at the customs label then I knew, I felt the package and it is so small I almost thought it was not in there, but it was- in its original packing. The postage dated 17-4-14. We are so excited to be able to share this with you now. There are what look like some pry marks on the outer rim on the brass/ compass insert (and not noticeable in real life) as they are blown way out of proportion due to the size of the pictures, and so you can the detail. A girlfriend told me about having to find packages at her job of computer parts when they are sent somewhere for safety inspection. I could only imagine what customs thought it was, and something it is clearly not. So, it is the miracle netsuke.
See our other Netsuke for history about Japanese Netsuke.
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