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
[ Adam Clark Vroman , Pasadena, CA , 1910; sold to Sage]. ; Margaret Olivia Sage , New York (1910; donated to MMA).
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