Skeleton with a ritual dagger – netsuke

Anonymous artist

Anonymous artist - Skeleton with a ritual dagger – netsuke
This 18th-century Japanese miniature carved from horn is a fastener, netsuke. The term netsuke literally means “to root” referring to the function of the netsuke fasteners, which were attached by cords to kimono obi sashes. The skeleton combines the Buddhist and folklore traditions of Japanese culture. Its hand holds a ritual spear reminiscent of the kila dagger and comparable to the Tibetan ritual dagger vajrakila housed in the collections of the National Gallery Prague. With regard to the Japanese tradition of burying corpses by a fire and Japanese burgher and folk art, the skeleton looks comic rather than terrifying. It appears in a similarly relaxed form in Japanese “horror” woodcuts.
measurements: height 7 cm
material: Horn
technique: Carving
inventory number: Vp 2834
gallery collection: Collection of Asian and African Art