3 Rat Netsuke

This is a three rat netsuke which depicts a figure of three white rats. It is placed on a wooden surface.
This three rat netsuke is a part of the Eldon House collection. Image courtesy of Jason Plant

Country of Origin: Japan
Year: ca. 1890s
Materials: Ivory 

The three-rat netsuke was collected by the Harris Family on their travels to Japan in 1897. Netsuke were part of a traditional kimono. As kimono’s had no pockets, it was necessary to attach a purse or pouch, called a sagemono. Sagemono were often attached by beaded cords (ojime) and the netsuke was used as a toggle.

Netsuke were often very intricate designs reflecting Japanese flora and fauna, or mythology. Pieces were usual made of ivory, lacquer, previous metal or stones, and shell. The three-rat netsuke is an excellent example of craftsmanship needed to carve attractive and sturdy pieces. It was made ivory during the Meiji Era (1868-1912).