Japanese vintage wood netsuke 根付 rabbits born in Japan about 50 years ago. We adopted from a friend who has a wonderful store of all things Japanese. According to othis friend, the netsuke is about 50 years old dating it to the late Showa period of 1926–1989, with this one being made in the 1960s. It is adorable and made very well. He also noted the art and carving work is indicative of a very talented netsuke artist.
The bunnies are snuggling together in this netsuke. Now I am not sure if the artist intended on depicting the man and wife or parent and baby. I think the latter is probably what is closest to the size of the rabbits. 'The baby is riding the mother rabbit because it is tired.' Wide himotoshi holes are also made in the bottom for placing the netsuke cord through. Once the artist has carved and sanded the wood to their liking and the netsuke is done with this stage, they will then cover it in lacquer. In the case of this one, it appears to be carved of a lighter colored boxwood and lacquered in a darker color. It is not quite ebony but it is dark. Boxwood is the most common woods used for carving netsuke. The eyes are then added. These are some nice ones with a metal base with prongs to hold them instead of just gluing them on. Most likely these are glass eyes but I did not check or asked my dealer.
Rabbits are very popular in Japan and are symbols used on many things in Japan culture including the tea ceremony. the home, the body, and so much more. They are first and foremost a symbol of good luck. Rabbits only drive forward and don't step back so they have been considered lucky in the case of career advancement. They also represent fertility, very important in the life of many couples. The rabbit is a symbol of cleverness, self-devotion. It appears in many myths. In the old days, it was a symbol of Spring and it is still very much a symbol of fertility.
It is in excellent condition with no cracks or splits or damage. It does have some minor age wear and very samll scratches on the bottom. The sculpture has inscribed his signature on the bottom using a mother of pearl cartouche.
Size: Length 1.8 inches or cm, Width 1.2 inches or 4.2 cm, Height 1.0 inch ot 2.5 cm. Weight 40 grams or 1.41 oz.
Netsuke are miniature sculptures that were invented in 17th-century Japan to serve a practical function (the two Japanese characters netsuke mean "root" and "to attach"). Traditional Japanese garments, robes called kosode and kimono, had no pockets; however, men who wore them needed a place to store their personal belongings, such as pipes, tobacco, money, seals, or medicines.
Their solution was to place such objects in containers called Inro, hung by cords from the robes' sashes obi. Sometimes they are or were carried in the sleeve on the kimono. The entire piece all together is sagemono. The containers may have been pouches or small woven baskets, but the most popular were beautifully crafted boxes (inrō), which were held shut by ojime, which were sliding beads on cords. Whatever the form of the container, the fastener that secured the cord at the top of the sash was a carved, button-like toggle called a netsuke.
Netsuke, like the inrō and ojime, evolved over time from being strictly utilitarian into objects of great artistic merit and an expression of extraordinary craftsmanship. Such objects have a long history reflecting the important aspects of Japanese folklore and life. Netsuke production was most popular during the Edo period in Japan, around 1615-1868. Today, the art lives on, and some modern works can command high prices in the UK, Europe, the USA, Japan and elsewhere. Inexpensive yet faithful reproductions are available in museums and souvenir shops.
Above Excerpts From Wiki