Sunday, December 16, 2012


  • Description
Ivory netsuke. Kettle with landscape and tea utensils.
  • Producer name
  • Date
    • 19thC
  • Production place
  • Materials
  • Dimensions
    • Height: 2.4 centimetres
    • Width: 4 centimetres
    • Depth: 3.5 centimetres
  • Inscriptions
      • Inscription Type
      • Inscription Comment
  • Location
  • Exhibition history
2012 Sept – 2013 Jan, BM Gallery 91, ‘Ritual and revelry: the art of drinking in Asia'
  • Conservation
  • Department

·        Registration number

According to the British Museum, an institution I trust implicitly, the netsuke pictured above shows three effects of sake (rice wine), namely, Sadness, Euphoria and Fatigue. 

I’m no expert on netsuke and no one’s eyesight is good enough to read the details in the object at hand from a photo.  Consequently, I’m content to take the BM's summary at face value, wondering however why Sadness leads off the trilateral description.  

In my own experiences with sake and drunkenness, Euphoria comes first, followed by Fatigue.  Fortunately, I rarely experience Sadness in the drunkenness context, although I clearly remember that the first time someone told me about netsuke art, as well as his personal netsuke collection, I became very Fatigued and Sad (or Sad and Fatigued, I forget the order) because I was uninterested in what he was saying and it seemed a Neverending Story. 

My lecturer was also at the time generously serving me from bottle-ends of various Chateau d’Yquem vintages in his dormitory  room on the second floor of Mary Lyon 3 at Swarthmore College, a glamorous and unusual event in those unprepossessing surroundings.  G. had collected this rare and exquisite wine, which I had never tasted before, at a New York City wine tasting he had just attended with his father, the person who originally encouraged him to begin "collecting small" (you can't collect many things smaller than netsukes) as training for eventually  "collecting big."  I knew and liked the father and, characteristically,  he was giving his son good advice.

I would be very interested in recommencing the netsuke conversation now, but it would probably be over tea because I’ve lost the head for alcohol. 

And Euphoria.

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