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Netsuke: Masterpieces from The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Okada, Barbra Teri (1982)
This title is out of print.

Netsuke, the toggles once used to attach pouches or cases to kimono sashes, have become increasingly valued during the last fifty years. Much care was given to the carving of these small, utilitarian objects, and many of them are astonishing examples of the sculptor's skill. Barbra Teri Okada, a leading authority on netsuke, has chosen 100 of the finest of these sculptures from the collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Each piece is illustrated and discussed in detail; techniques are explained, rich religious and historical allusions are explored, and elements of parody, satire, and parable are pointed out. The author identifies the heroes, Buddhist and Taoist saints, and characters from folklore and myth who are frequently represented in netsuke. Animals, real and fantastic, are presented, and the twelve zodiac animals, so significant in Japanese astrology, are carefully described. The less common manju netsuke—kagamibuta and ryusa—are included, and mask netsuke, which are derived from Japanese drama, are given special attention. The major artists—among them Tomotada, Minko, Toyomasa, Ohara Mitsuhiro, Masatsugu Kaigyokusai, and Joso—and the most important schools are assessed; the author's acute judgments will benefit both the expert and the novice. Those who already have an interest in netsuke will welcome this opportunity to study these seldom-exhibited objects. Those unfamiliar with this uniquely Japanese form will be delighted by these small works, which demonstrate so well that artistic energy and interest are not dependent on size.

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