mouse netsuke

The Mouse

The mouse is a netsuke, a Japanese device for holding purses and little boxes on the sash of a kimono, since they had no pockets. It's really just a little toggle but, over time, they developed into a minor art form, mostly unique and often intricately carved. 


This one was found by my eagle-eyed partner in a village sale in France. It's made in boxwood, not very old, but beautifully made, even the bottom of the feet are carved and there is a maker's name, unreadable to western eyes, just by the tail of the smaller mouse.


Netsuke subjects are widespread, though animals are a common theme. The mouse is said to represent a humble, earthy quality. This one spoke to me strongly as soon as I heard about it. She, I think it must be she, is plainly a determined traveller, a vagabond, dragging her sack and her baby.


The sack is said to contain good fortune. To me it just looks like another load she would probably be wise to let go of. Of course this means the baby would have to walk, probably also a good thing.


Drop your load and learn to walk, like a free vagabond.

"Exquisitely lyrical."  Izabella Park - Cumbria