Netsuke in form of skeleton strangling man

Made:
1701-1900 in Japan
maker:
Unknown

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Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Science Museum Group
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum, London.

Science Museum Group
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum, London.

Science Museum Group
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum, London.

Ivory netsuke, in the form of a skeleton, perhaps representing death, strangling a man, Japanese, 1701-1900

Netsuke are toggle-like ornaments. They hang objects such as medicine boxes or tobacco pouches from the sash of a kimono – a traditional form of Japanese dress. Netsuke carving is a form of miniature sculpture which developed in Japan over several hundred years. They were often beautifully decorated with elaborate carving, lacquer work, or inlays. They were made from wood, ivory or porcelain.

This tiny ivory netsuke was made in Japan. It is in the alarming form of a skeleton attempting to strangle a human-like figure. The figure appears to be either terrified or enraged and the sinister skeleton may represent death, as is common in European art.

Details

Category:
Asian Medicine
Object Number:
A49804
Materials:
complete and ivory
type:
netsuke and costume (personal accessories), ethnography (japanese), costume (personal accessories), ethnography (japanese), male, netsuke and skeletons
taxonomy:
  • visual and verbal communication
  • sculpture
credit:
Glendining