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Japanese Netsuke

Netsuke, the highly collected miniature carvings from 17th, 18th and 19th Century Japan were originally and primarily very simple functional objects that evolved over time to the level of truly superb works of art produced by master carvers. This evolution began towards the end of the 16th Century, reaching (in the minds of many) its artistic zenith in the second half of the 18th Century and continuing throughout the 19th C until its decline in the early Meiji period. Throughout this time, many individual “schools” developed across Japan often with unique and instantly recognisable styles and subject matter. Naturally there was a greater concentration of schools and master carvers in and around the major cities especially Kyoto, Osaka and Tokyo. Early netsuke are thought to have mostly been the work of carvers serving primarily the numerous shrines and temples across Japan.

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