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Again on "silk seals" netsuke

A forum to discuss different forms of Netsuke such as Katabori, Manju, Ryusa etc
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AFNetsuke
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Re: Again on "silk seals" netsuke

Postby AFNetsuke » Thu Jan 25, 2018 3:31 pm

Indeed, which holes are which? With it in hand are you able to tell?
Alan

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souldeep
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Re: Again on "silk seals" netsuke

Postby souldeep » Thu Jan 25, 2018 6:37 pm

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

Thanks to Jay Hopkins for sending me in the right direction to find an example to share. Many thanks to Max for providing images, a recent example that was in stock. Sold now.

A Chinese Bronze Silk Seal;

MR1931_v1.jpeg


MR1931_v2.jpeg


MR1931_v3.jpeg


MR1931_v4.jpeg

chonchon wrote: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.

The hole in this Chinese example was used to secure the seal to the silk bale.

The Chinese would ship these bales to Nagasaki, the Japanese then breaking the seal, and after removing the seal, use the stamp to certify receipt of the goods. The seal was then returned, with the related stamped paperwork, to China.

The silk then moved from the port and was transported internally around Japan. Naturally the Japanese replaced the returned Chinese seal with one of their own. Predominately carved in stag (although I have owned one in ivory and even have one example in pumpkin!). The designs closely mirrored the Chinese seals, but with some added Japanese flair. Even the characters or monograms were carved similar to the Chinese text, often depicting imagery of some description.

This leads me to assume, the holes in the stag examples, were also used for securing the seal to the shipment, in the same manner as the Chinese seal was used?

It seems we have a contesting idea behind how these were used, and the purpose. This is good. It challenges accepted norms, and gets the grey matter ticking over. To truth and beyond :D

Does anyone happen to have any further historical information, or even better, documentation, regarding silk bale shipments internally or between China and Japan?

Piers - I would be interested to know where you learnt about the hole being a silk measurement device? I've struggled to find reference to "ito toshi ana". I also note the design of this Chinese seal example and your wooden example have commonality. I'd be interested to see the actual seal, but can't find an image of the underneath?
1580987_RIMG5275.JPG
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 » Fri Jan 26, 2018 12:41 am

Thank you for your detailed description above, Martyn, and that good example of an original bronze seal with pertinent hole. From those photos it can be seen that the hole is not what we would naturally think of a functional Himotoshi hole, literally 'string-puller', for a single length of inro cord, neither in size nor in directionality.

A dealer from Kyoto, a buyer and seller of these metal silk seals, both human and animal, told me that skeins of silk of a regulation number of folds, were pulled through the hole, to judge thickness, (smoothness, what?). I thought he said thickness, or body. He would not allow me to take a photograph of his examples.
***He did not say what the name of the hole was, but these are holes in 'Ito-in', or literally 'silk thread holes', so I put the words Ito and toshi together to make the word Ito-toshi or Ito-toshi-ana, or Ito toshi no ana. This word came out of my head and may never have existed, or it may have existed and been lost. I worked backwards from himotoshi (no ana) etymologically. Even today there is a strong correspondence between Ito and Himo. For example, the silk cord which is sent to the binders of sword handles is called Himo by the makers of the cord, Himo-kumi being cord weaving. The Tsukamaki sword handle binders however, refer to the same string as Ito. My theory is that Himo is fat string, Ito is slimmer thread, ie in the Tsukamaki-Shi's hands, himo under tension.
I like this information from you "The hole in this Chinese example was used to secure the seal to the silk bale." I can imagine some of the end of the silk pulled through and waxed somehow into place, making any intermediate tampering obvious. Ito toshi ana would still work!!! 8-)

If that hole was not good for a Netsuke Himotoshi, then can we not assume that sometimes a new one was added. My assumption is that the (smaller) hole/holes that do not look like the original silk holes, but somewhat obey fledgling Himotoshi rules for Netsuke, must be the later holes.
As to the bottom of my pewed Catholic monkey priest sacrament silk seal, it is just... well-rubbed flat.
Hoping this has addressed most of your hugely observant questions, Alan and Martyn. :)
Last edited by chonchon on Fri Jan 26, 2018 12:49 am, edited 1 time in total.
Piers

Size is something.

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Re: Again on "silk seals" netsuke

Postby chonchon » Fri Jan 26, 2018 12:54 am

PS Looking at your seated bronze bonze above, I wonder if that was what they were, guardians of the silk, sitting or standing upon the bale or shipment. A scary Portuguese priest, with a ruff neck, in some cases? With the law of God and the might of the armed forces behind him?

D8E59662-C35E-48C2-8923-4610D28A2FF0.jpeg
Last edited by chonchon on Fri Jan 26, 2018 1:04 am, edited 1 time in total.
Piers

Size is something.

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Re: Again on "silk seals" netsuke

Postby chonchon » Fri Jan 26, 2018 2:37 am

Look at the wooden plug in mine above, and compare with the metal plug in this one:
download/file.php?id=14479&mode=view

download/file.php?id=14730&mode=view

PS Please thank Max from me if you see him.
Last edited by chonchon on Fri Jan 26, 2018 5:06 am, edited 3 times in total.
Piers

Size is something.

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Re: Again on "silk seals" netsuke

Postby AFNetsuke » Fri Jan 26, 2018 5:27 am

Great information, gentlemen, and thanks to Jay.
Alan

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chonchon
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Re: Again on "silk seals" netsuke

Postby chonchon » Fri Jan 26, 2018 5:30 am

:) Agreed!
Piers

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souldeep
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Re: Again on "silk seals" netsuke

Postby souldeep » Fri Jan 26, 2018 6:46 am

chonchon wrote:A dealer from Kyoto, a buyer and seller of these metal silk seals, both human and animal, told me that skeins of silk of a regulation number of folds, were pulled through the hole, to judge thickness, (smoothness, what?). I thought he said thickness, or body. He would not allow me to take a photograph of his examples.

I know Jay feels that the best source of use regarding these seals will one day come from the Japanese. For research to take place, it will take a shift in the Japanese cultural psyche regarding the status of netsuke.

I think that the dealers explanation has real merit. Would you maybe help us on your next visit, and find out if you can discover the dealers source of information regarding the function of the seals?

chonchon wrote:I like this information from you "The hole in this Chinese example was used to secure the seal to the silk bale." I can imagine some of the end of the silk pulled through and waxed somehow into place, making any intermediate tampering obvious. Ito toshi ana would still work!!! 8-)

The information I have written is not cited, as it is a compilation from memory derived from several sources. Any errors my own :oops: Sources from conversations \ reading are;

Jay Hopkins
Neil Holton
Bushell - Netsuke Familiar and Unfamiliar
Paul Moss - Third volume in the Kokusai magnum opus (Kokusai The Genius: and Stag-antler Carving in Japan)

chonchon wrote:If that hole was not good for a Netsuke Himotoshi, then can we not assume that sometimes a new one was added. My assumption is that the (smaller) hole/holes that do not look like the original silk holes, but somewhat obey fledgling Himotoshi rules for Netsuke, must be the later holes.

You won't find me contesting your point Piers :) In fact, why wouldn't the majority of himotoshi of been carved, contemporary to these Japanese stag seals?

Consider the Japanese Merchant delivering the silk bales. Once documents and receipts stamped, it's not a stretch to imagine they then connected the seal back onto a cord to return home.

Consider also the heavily policed internal borders of different domains. Perhaps the merchants using these seals to also stamp documentation (receipting border tax payments even), through such check points?
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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Re: Again on "silk seals" netsuke

Postby souldeep » Fri Jan 26, 2018 6:49 am

chonchon wrote:PS Looking at your seated bronze bonze above, I wonder if that was what they were, guardians of the silk, sitting or standing upon the bale or shipment. A scary Portuguese priest, with a ruff neck, in some cases? With the law of God and the might of the armed forces behind him?

Astute observation. I'm persuaded :D
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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Re: Again on "silk seals" netsuke

Postby chonchon » Fri Jan 26, 2018 7:26 am

Having a search around on the J web pulls in the following, using key words Kotto (antiques) Boeki (trade) Nitchu (Japan and China) Itoin and Inchu. (The word Inchu is used by the Netsuke chief at *Netsuke no Kikite). Kenin was also used 絹印, ken being the other reading for Kinu, ie silk, so silk seal.

https://www.picoku.com/tag/%E7%B3%B8%E5%8D%B0

https://www.google.co.jp/search?hl=ja&b ... 6950689895

* http://www5d.biglobe.ne.jp/~mystudy/kik ... itetop.htm
Last edited by chonchon on Fri Jan 26, 2018 8:39 am, edited 4 times in total.
Piers

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