Victoria and Albert Museum

An Introduction to Netsuke - V&A


Thank you to my friend Jo for this wonderful gift, 'An Introduction to Netsuke,' which belonged to her father. I will treasure it.

This book of Netsuke from the Victoria & Albert Museum by Joe Earle, takes me back to a trip I made to the V&A in February 2015. Many of the plates in the book are ones I made prints from last year including Tigress and Young - Signed Tomotada and Tiger - Signed Tomotada. Lovely to see the underside and detail of the Tiger's paws with Tomotada's signature carved into his hind leg.

Little is known of the lives or origins of the netsuke carvers but we do know that during the seventeenth century miniature Buddhist shrines for domestic use were coming into widespread use and it is reasonable to assume that the makers of the images for these shrines would have been among the first to turn their hand to netsuke - we can learn something about the relations between netsuke carvers from their special art-names, which often share common elements. For example, among Kyoto artists mentioned by Inaba we find Tomotada, Tomotane and Okatomo. Tomatane and Okatomo were pupils of Tomotada, while Okatori was the brother of Okatomo. The strong master-pupil relationship implied by these closely related professional names has been a characteristic of Japanese arts of all periods.
— An Introduction to Netsuke (V & A Museum Introductions to the Decorative Arts).

I have been meaning to make a print of the little wooden bird too, so maybe now it is time...