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Again on "silk seals" netsuke

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giuseppepiva
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Again on "silk seals" netsuke

Postby giuseppepiva » Wed Jun 28, 2017 11:21 am

Hello everybody.

I am now handling a classic itoin netsuke together with another grotesque piece that I have always labeled as "Fukurokuju" (I have seen similar ones always with the same label).
What I am noticing is that they seem to be carved by the same workshop, if not by the same hand: the facial expression, nose, wide apertures on the mouth's side and the general carved lines are very similar, as well as aji and patina. Not to mention the single central himotoshi on the back.
So: could also this "Fukurokuju" be just another "monster-man" instead? They almost all have a tall head, don't they?
If so, could this peculiar shape (unusual for a stag antler netsuke) be a silk too? If someone has a "tube" netsuke to show, pleas do it!

Giuseppe
Attachments
stag.jpg
Netsuke Fukurokuju mask 1154-03.jpg
Netsuke Fukurokuju mask 1154-04.jpg
Netsuke stag antler grotesque 1162-01-2.jpg
Netsuke stag antler grotesque 1162-07.jpg
Thanks, Giuseppe www.giuseppepiva.com

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chonchon
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Re: Again on "silk seals" netsuke

Postby chonchon » Wed Jun 28, 2017 12:21 pm

Guiseppe, we had a thread, perhaps on the old site, discussing (silk) itoin seals. Usually the human face with a neck ruff when turned upside down becomes a cat face. You are maybe right about coming from the same workshop.

One of yours fits nicely into that category, but the Jurojin/Fukuroku is quite unusual.

I do have one which I bought in Kyoto some years ago. Most itoin collected in Japan tend to be metal and command high prices; one dealer told me of the original reason for the hole, but perhaps it was easier to make the jump to Netsuke for those made of bone, antler, ivory etc.(?)

Ueda Reikichi thinks they were one of the origins of Netsuke, hanging from people's obi. 糸印は根付の起源として有力で、舶載された糸印を帯に提げるうちに日本独自の根付が発達したとものとする。初期のころの根付には糸印そっくりのものがある。
Piers

Size is something.

giuseppepiva
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Re: Again on "silk seals" netsuke

Postby giuseppepiva » Wed Jun 28, 2017 1:13 pm

Thank you, Piers.
A notable difference is that on the long one the hole on the back seems to be origina, while on the itoin it looks to be added later.
It might mean the first one was actually born as a netsuke, while the seal has been adapted later on, maybe.
I was aware of the upside-down thing, but I was now wondering about the connection with silk seals.
Giuseppe
Thanks, Giuseppe www.giuseppepiva.com

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chonchon
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Re: Again on "silk seals" netsuke

Postby chonchon » Wed Jan 24, 2018 1:17 pm

The other very good thread on silk seals was locked, so I thought to post here.

Coming back to this subject now I need to add that there are seals and seals and seals, of many sizes and weights for different occasions.

The 'silk seal', (itoin) 糸印 though, is a different beast. Ito 糸 means thread, yes, but it specifically indicates silk, (just as tamago 卵 mainly means chicken's eggs, even if it has a broader meaning too). As well as sealing a document, it was a quality measure for silk skeins; they were light enough to hang from the obi, and later to hang things from. Ueda Reikichi thinks Itoin were likely forebears of Netsuke. Indeed, :idea: there may be a direct link back to the de rigueur silk cord that is still used for Netsuke and Inro 印籠 today. :geek:

Not that I have been consciously collecting these, but I now have three human figure candidates that fit the bill, two of which have seal designs on the flat underneath. Two I posted over on the locked thread, but a third came this way yesterday, quite similar to the pieces shown by PETE and Tengu.
viewtopic.php?f=13817&t=6372096

Pics to follow...
Last edited by chonchon on Wed Jan 24, 2018 1:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Piers

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chonchon
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Re: Again on "silk seals" netsuke

Postby chonchon » Wed Jan 24, 2018 1:56 pm

Promised pics

097539AB-AA27-49E8-AA98-1BEFFE6D89C7.jpeg


38C5F7C9-9217-4343-9E74-DC74FAA03E3D.jpeg
Piers

Size is something.

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souldeep
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Re: Again on "silk seals" netsuke

Postby souldeep » Wed Jan 24, 2018 2:57 pm

A nice "classic" edition silk seal to your collection Piers :)

What I only learnt recently is why these were actually called silk seals. I had assumed it was because the merchants used them to stamp the silk bales as a form of identification.

However, historically, the Chinese silk bales were accompanied by a cast metal seal - known as the itoin. These were recorded to have been shaped as monster headed foreigners. It would appear that the Japanese picked up this influence, and associated designs, in port areas such as Nagasaki. Replacing the metal itoin with these stag versions.

I'm yet to see an example of one of these Chinese metal seals. Has anyone?

Quite something to get one's head around, but truly functional little guy, with a life well beyond playing the humble root attachment role.
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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chonchon
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Re: Again on "silk seals" netsuke

Postby chonchon » Thu Jan 25, 2018 12:20 am

Still not sure if everyone has caught the meaning of the holes in a silk seal. Yes, I guess it is 'classical' as you say, although the face is already more like a cat than a foreigner, even without the neat trick of turning it upside down. Look at the ears for example, more like a pug.

8741B018-AA6E-4E48-80CB-A4AE0F3AB6AA.jpeg


F216E176-AA3F-4B18-8B65-573D9A8248CE.jpeg
Last edited by chonchon on Thu Jan 25, 2018 12:27 am, edited 2 times in total.
Piers

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AFNetsuke
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Re: Again on "silk seals" netsuke

Postby AFNetsuke » Thu Jan 25, 2018 2:34 am

Piers, please tell us about the multiple holes on these silk seals.
Alan

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chonchon
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Re: Again on "silk seals" netsuke

Postby chonchon » Thu Jan 25, 2018 4:12 am

Alan, if you look at original silk seals, you will see a hole or holes that line up from left to right or front to back. These are not originally himo toshi no ana as we know them in Netsuke. They are ito toshi ana, for pushing or pulling a skein of silk ito through, and judging the thickness.
It may be that these holes were used, or new holes were drilled according to the hang of the sagemono, which starts to explain multiple usage holes, as in my seated wooden figure.
So we can often find in them a record of 1. Silk measure 2. Approval seal and 3. Netsuke use.
Piers

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chonchon
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Re: Again on "silk seals" netsuke

Postby chonchon » Thu Jan 25, 2018 4:15 am

So which holes were which? :)

EG at the top of page 2 here
viewtopic.php?f=13817&t=6372096&hilit=Edo+ugly+foreigner&start=10
Last edited by chonchon on Thu Jan 25, 2018 4:19 am, edited 1 time in total.
Piers

Size is something.


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