I have just finished reading Edmund de Waal’s The hare with amber eyes: a family’s century of art and loss; it’s neither a biography nor an autobiography but a family memoir, a genre with which I was unfamiliar until I read the book.
The author traces the story of a collection of 264 netsuke – from their arrival in his family in Vienna during the height of the rage for Japonisme to their return to Japan with his uncle – alongside the story of his family from their starting point as grain merchants in Odessa, then to being rich Jewish bankers in pre-war Vienna, to their end, in much straitened circumstances in post-war England.
Netsuke are small, tactile miniature sculptures usually made of ivory, box or fruitwood depicting fruit, animals or humans engaged in a variety of activities (often sexual). They were originally designed as toggles for clothing and have a couple of holes in the back through which cords were threaded.
A friend of ours has a small collection of his own. These are some of his netsuke.
Kim Klassen came up with the idea of sharing Friday Finds.