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Buffalo horn

Discussions, identification and analysis of the different types of Horn (includes pressed horn - a synthetic)
Paullo
Posts: 9
Joined: Thu May 12, 2011 5:53 am
Location: Bangkok, Thailand

Postby Paullo » Wed Jun 11, 2014 3:56 am

Hello,
I am wondering if a netsuke made entirely from buffalo horn (the whole piece not just a small inlay) exists before the 20th century? Any comment please.
P.

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chonchon
Posts: 6917
Joined: Wed May 18, 2005 9:16 am
Location: Japan

Postby chonchon » Wed Jun 11, 2014 4:20 am

Presumably you are asking about water buffalo? We know that during the middle ages, Japanese ships traded right along the coast of mainland China, down to Vietnam and Singapore. Naturally horn would have been a trading product. Many parts of Japanese armour, such as toggles for fastening the cords, were made of water buffalo horn. Unfortunately the material falls prey to a certain type of insect that is attracted to it, and once eaten away and damaged they lose all beauty and get discarded.

I posted a Netsuke here the other day that seems to be a slice of buffalo horn, and there is quite a bit of age to it. Proving how much age might be difficult though. A quick flick through some Netsuke books might find illustrations of buffalo horn. (?)

We also know that the shavings were compressed to form molded Netsuke, among other things, and that this process was used at least from the 19th century..
Piers

Size is something.

Paullo
Posts: 9
Joined: Thu May 12, 2011 5:53 am
Location: Bangkok, Thailand

Postby Paullo » Wed Jun 11, 2014 5:16 am

Thanks so much for such a swift reply. After I posed the question I found 2 buffalo-horn netsukes at old Bonhams and Christies websites.

http://www.bonhams.com/auctions/19548/lot/242/
http://www.christies.com/lotFinder/lot_details.aspx?intObjectID=4150949

I'll pose my buffalo-horn netsuke later. Hopefully someone may help me judge its age.

Thanks so much again.

P.

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chonchon
Posts: 6917
Joined: Wed May 18, 2005 9:16 am
Location: Japan

Postby chonchon » Wed Jun 11, 2014 8:48 am

Yes, please do, Paullo.

Just double-checked and found that indeed horn was being used for Japanese armour and also extensively for Japanese Nihonto sword fittings from at least Muromachi (pre-Netsuke Golden Age) onwards.
Piers

Size is something.

JimLewis
Posts: 706
Joined: Sat Feb 10, 2007 6:25 pm
Location: Western N.C. (USA)

Postby JimLewis » Wed Jun 11, 2014 12:55 pm

I've always assumed this was 19th Century. The chrysanthemum at the wide end is silver.

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Jim Lewis - lewisjk@alltel.net - Western NC - [font=8]People, when Columbus discovered this country, it was plumb full of nuts and berries. And I'm right here to tell you the berries are just about all gone. Uncle Dave Macon, old-time country musician[/font]

Paullo
Posts: 9
Joined: Thu May 12, 2011 5:53 am
Location: Bangkok, Thailand

Postby Paullo » Sun Jun 15, 2014 7:43 am

Hi,
Here are the photos of my buffalo horn netsuke. It might be okimono, I am not sure, as the himotoshi holes are quite small. Anyway, it is Oiwa ghost as you can see from her lantern head. The lantern is hollow with a flame inside. I took the photos by my phone, so it was hard to focus and zoom was not possible. Hope you like it. P. Image Image Image Image
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Paullo
Posts: 9
Joined: Thu May 12, 2011 5:53 am
Location: Bangkok, Thailand

Postby Paullo » Sun Jun 15, 2014 7:52 am

Similar piece I found was an ivory from mid/late 20th century.
http://www.liveauctioneers.com/item/13999046_a-group-of-three-ivory-netsuke

P.

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chonchon
Posts: 6917
Joined: Wed May 18, 2005 9:16 am
Location: Japan

Postby chonchon » Mon Jun 16, 2014 9:43 am

Paullo "The lantern is hollow with a flame inside". Do you mean wick?

The concept of this piece is great.

Your question though, is how to judge age, and it needs addressing. My guess is that it is not so old, and the silence from other members suggests they may be thinking the same thing.

Why? The eyes are to me too white, suggesting that the inlay is done with fresh ivory. The question then becomes, is this an old Netsuke with newly-replaced inlay, or is it a new(ish) Netsuke all round? Dark horn can be difficult to judge age-wise. Can we look into the grooves and see fresh dust or rawness from the blade? I like the composition and the skill of the carving, but there are skilful modern artists, and as you point out, there are other similar Netsuke out there. Is someone mixing materials and inlay to get around or slip through the tightening laws on ivory?

Just some ideas in order to get the ball rolling. I hope that you are happy to gather differing opinions, and I hope that others will feel free to chime in one way or another. :)
Piers

Size is something.

Paullo
Posts: 9
Joined: Thu May 12, 2011 5:53 am
Location: Bangkok, Thailand

Postby Paullo » Mon Jun 16, 2014 2:56 pm

Hi,
Thanks so much for your comment. I was concerned about its age before making the purchase. However, I decided to buy it because I really like the supernatural theme and its nice craftsmanship. Once I had it in my hand its age does not bother me anymore.

It may be difficult to see from my photos, but both hands are completely separated from the torso, and underneath the hands the kimono and smoke pattern were carved even though the space was so tight. The holes (as a part of the smoke?) on the back were connected making the carving look even deeper.

It would be even nicer if it is old, but I am pleased as it is.

Thanks again for your input.
P.


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