Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Netsuke Carved in Shape of Folded Letter on Paper Decorated with Court Motifs

19th century
H. 1 1/2 in. (3.8 cm); W. 2 in. (5.1 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Mrs. Russell Sage, 1910
Accession Number:
Not on view
This realistic design of autumn ivy, a common sight in Japan, is a motif that recalls the episode in Tales of lse (chapt. 9), in which the poet, traveling to the east along a dark and narrow route overgrown with ivy on Mount Utsu, crosses paths with a wandering ascetic returning to the capital to whom he entrusts a poem of love. The ivory netsuke represents a love letter on paper decorated with courtly designs of paulownia and symbols for the chapters of Genji used in incense games
Signature: Gyokuyō-sai
Related Objects


Date: 18th century Medium: Gold Accession: 33.40.84c On view in:Not on view

Portrait of the Sinhalese King Sri Vikrama Raja Sinha (r. 1798–1815)

Date: early 19th century Medium: Ivory with engraved and painted design Accession: 2010.142 On view in:Gallery 242

Buddha Shakyamuni with attendant bodhisattvas

Date: 12th–14th century Medium: Mammoth ivory Accession: 34.26.1a, b On view in:Gallery 219

Fudō Myōō

Artist: Mokujiki Shōnin 木喰上人 (Japanese, 1718–1810) Date: 1805 Medium: Chisel-carved (natabori) wood Accession: 2016.363.1 On view in:Gallery 223

Six of the Twelve Divine Generals (Jūni shinshō)

Date: 14th century Medium: Wood with lacquer, color, gold, and inlaid crystal eyes Accession: 2015.300.254a–f On view in:Gallery 224