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15th century Italian netsuke?

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dougsanders
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15th century Italian netsuke?

Postby dougsanders » Thu Jul 27, 2017 2:32 pm

I was watching the BBC series Italy Unpacked Season 3 Episode 3 "The Merchants of Venice" last night and low and behold, a late 15th century fresco appeared on the screen, depicting a kneeling peasant with a wooden canteen strapped to his belt, by none other than a netsuke-like object:
european netsuke.JPG


The fresco was painted by Gianfranco Tolmezzo in a small church, that of St. Nicholas, in the northern Italian comune of San Nicolò di Comelico, around 1490-1500.

I post this not in an attempt to re-write what we know of netsuke, but just to show that over the ages, many cultures have adopted the toggle as a means of belt attachment.
Last edited by dougsanders on Thu Jul 27, 2017 2:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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souldeep
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Re: 15th century Italian netsuke?

Postby souldeep » Thu Jul 27, 2017 2:55 pm

Doug - a very interesting find. It may have a deeper impact than you first state. Sure - a toggle was evidenced to be used in many cultures - but it's the image you shared that makes me stop in my tracks.

Could it be possible - that the European influence, rather than Chinese, may have brought about the Japanese netsuke?

The Portuguese were in Japan before any records we have of Japanese netsuke were created.

The image you've shared, is reminiscent of those earlier netsuke - the manju.

Throughout the history of netsuke - we see European influence. Even in the silk seals (we commonly agree may be the earliest netsuke), we see Western faces and influences.

Real food for thought. Thanks for sharing this information.
Piglet: "Pooh?" Pooh: "Yes, Piglet?" Piglet: "I've been thinking..." Pooh: "That's a very good habit to get into to, Piglet." - A.A. Milne.

dougsanders
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Re: 15th century Italian netsuke?

Postby dougsanders » Thu Jul 27, 2017 3:34 pm

Martyn- Since you're interested, there was another belt accessory from the same time- the 1400's- called the 'girdle book' that was a form of binding a volume to enable a cover, pouch and handling knob all in one. Here are some pictures I've grabbed off the internet. Not many of these books were ever made, and very few exist so we're best left with paintings for a record of their existence. I mentioned these during the London conference a few years back maybe to Julia Hutt after a talk of hers though I can't quite remember if it was her or not. One of the pictures below is interesting because it shows a similar utility knife being carried as the in the fresco I've shown, plus another belt-mounted item.

86a982b97e1c256dd7218a1c4d4ce927--medieval-books-medieval-art.jpg
1400s_bosch_beltbook.jpg
Gertrudenaltar 3.JPG
sd40-mgb1.jpg
Last edited by dougsanders on Thu Jul 27, 2017 3:43 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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souldeep
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Re: 15th century Italian netsuke?

Postby souldeep » Thu Jul 27, 2017 3:46 pm

dougsanders wrote:Martyn- Since you're interested, there was another belt accessory from the same time- the 1400's- called the 'girdle book' that was a form of binding a volume to enable a cover, pouch and handling knob all in one.

They called that a "handling knob"? :D

I find the Japanese term netsuke, more endearing. That may just be a language barrier however. I don't know what the Japanese think about the words root attachment (root to attach).

In the examples you've shared they look to be decorated. A bit more than just a utilitarian knob perhaps? Certainly, in your very first post example, it looks to have all the visible attention of the carved manju form.
Piglet: "Pooh?" Pooh: "Yes, Piglet?" Piglet: "I've been thinking..." Pooh: "That's a very good habit to get into to, Piglet." - A.A. Milne.

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AFNetsuke
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Re: 15th century Italian netsuke?

Postby AFNetsuke » Thu Jul 27, 2017 4:14 pm

Great info, Doug.
In the first picture the toggle functions exactly like a netsuke as opposed to Chinese toggles which dangle.
Real food for thought.
Alan

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tanukisan
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Re: 15th century Italian netsuke?

Postby tanukisan » Thu Jul 27, 2017 4:56 pm

There was a link between Venetian merchants in particularand the Far East for many centuries e.g. In 1271, during the rule of Doge Lorenzo Tiepolo, Marco Polo (at seventeen years of age), his father, and his uncle set off for Asia on the series of adventures that Marco later documented in his book. They returned to Venice in 1295, 24 years later, with many riches and treasures. They had travelled almost 15,000 miles.
Netsuke, we assume, started in China but they could have spread West to Europe as well as to Japan in time, to be revised and modified.

John 


dougsanders
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Re: 15th century Italian netsuke?

Postby dougsanders » Thu Jul 27, 2017 5:16 pm

souldeep wrote:
dougsanders wrote:Martyn- Since you're interested, there was another belt accessory from the same time- the 1400's- called the 'girdle book' that was a form of binding a volume to enable a cover, pouch and handling knob all in one.

They called that a "handling knob"? :D
.

I walked into that one! :P The term was all mine :)

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souldeep
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Re: 15th century Italian netsuke?

Postby souldeep » Thu Jul 27, 2017 6:02 pm

tanukisan wrote:There was a link between Venetian merchants in particularand the Far East for many centuries e.g. In 1271, during the rule of Doge Lorenzo Tiepolo, Marco Polo (at seventeen years of age), his father, and his uncle set off for Asia on the series of adventures that Marco later documented in his book. They returned to Venice in 1295, 24 years later, with many riches and treasures. They had travelled almost 15,000 miles.
Netsuke, we assume, started in China but they could have spread West to Europe as well as to Japan in time, to be revised and modified.

I guess one of the fascinating speculations worthy of consideration in the example Dougs shared, is that the painting shows a relationship between the object and a religious figure.

Could it be perhaps that this humbler occupation lent its self to the utilitarian example we see. A wondering priest, on travels, may have found such a set up convenient, transporting relics and personal belongings. Fast forward us a century or two and now place these same figures alighting from a long voyage onto Japanese soil. The Japanese fast to adapt the toggle into a more decorative form brought over by the west.

It has a romantic element to it dosn't it, although perhaps, I'm stretching reasonable conjecture too far.
Piglet: "Pooh?" Pooh: "Yes, Piglet?" Piglet: "I've been thinking..." Pooh: "That's a very good habit to get into to, Piglet." - A.A. Milne.

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souldeep
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Re: 15th century Italian netsuke?

Postby souldeep » Thu Jul 27, 2017 6:08 pm

dougsanders wrote:
souldeep wrote:
dougsanders wrote:Martyn- Since you're interested, there was another belt accessory from the same time- the 1400's- called the 'girdle book' that was a form of binding a volume to enable a cover, pouch and handling knob all in one.

They called that a "handling knob"? :D
.

I walked into that one! :P The term was all mine :)

Absolutely. Note my restraint with any further word play.

Simply, from this day forward, I will always know these European 14thC securing devices as the "Doug Sanders handling knobs".
Piglet: "Pooh?" Pooh: "Yes, Piglet?" Piglet: "I've been thinking..." Pooh: "That's a very good habit to get into to, Piglet." - A.A. Milne.


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