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Nautilus

Posted: Thu Jun 15, 2017 1:45 pm
by chonchon
Attached to a coarse blackpowder flask is this Netsuke. What makes it especially unusual is the detailed silver-on-copper Daki-Hiiragi (two embracing holly leaves) Mon/Kamon family crest. These Mon were used up until the abolition of the feudal Han system at the beginning of Meiji. You can see some tiny Nanako hammerings in the 'heart' shape formed by the holly spikes.
Nautilus shells are now regulated by Cites, but this little one is of a much older and dare I say more innocent age.

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Re: Nautilus

Posted: Thu Jun 15, 2017 8:24 pm
by AFNetsuke
Many metal pieces are clearly added to netsuke but started their life as a menuki or clasp for a pouch. What are your thoughts on this one, Piers?

Re: Nautilus

Posted: Fri Jun 16, 2017 12:13 am
by chonchon
Very perceptive comment as usual, Alan. You must be getting over your jet lag by now!!! :D

Nothing definitive, but these are my thoughts. The shell of this Netsuke is dirty and quite badly damaged, and the metal crest's prongs seem to be fixed inside the shell with plenty of hard grubby sealant. It is possible that the central hole once had a metal peg and an internal ring attached there; to me the string knot affects the aesthetics. Most ex-swordsmith artisans' menuki/purse clasps that I have seen, in fact all of them, are solid (no central hole) and rather larger than this little Mon.

My feeling is also that this Netsuke was added later; the sharp edges of the chipped and broken underside would have been unkind to cloth of any kind. Whether a Netsuke was for actual use or not, a string on a powder flask would have demanded an object on it there if only for a satisfactory appearance. This powder flask is quite a good one; as they fell out of fashion with the advent of new breech-loading guns and modern cartridges, it is quite possible that someone added another out-dated object of above average rarity and beauty.
The unspoken suggestion is that this powder flask might have been used by someone of relatively high status, such as the Ozeki family who used this Mon.

Re: Nautilus

Posted: Fri Jun 16, 2017 7:42 am
by AFNetsuke
Thanks, Piers. Makes sense.

Re: Nautilus

Posted: Fri Jun 16, 2017 11:12 am
by chonchon
Seeing Lub's silver skull on another thread suddenly added a new consideration. Did the creator of this Nautilus Netsuke see a human, or even alien!?!?!? :P skull in it?

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Re: Nautilus

Posted: Fri Nov 24, 2017 5:57 am
by chonchon
Revisiting your question, Alan, I feel I may not have addressed the central part of it. Although some of these metal fittings surely started life as a menuki for a sword handle for example, and were then refitted for a pouch clasp or a Netsuke, I think that it was the artisans who were continuing to produce, but adapting their skills to new objects specifically designed to function in an evolving post-Edo world. With the nautilus above for example, I sense that the metal part was made specifically for this Netsuke, and that any damage was done subsequently.