Small but perfectly formed

Image of a netsukeEven if I stood on my head (especially if  I stood on my head), I have to face up to the fact that I am never going to carve a netsuke. Most of us came to know of these intricate little Japanese carvings from Edmund de Waal’s  family history The hare with amber eyes – winner of the 2010 Costa Biography Award.

So taken was I with the story of de Waal’s family and their netsuke , that I recently visited the netsuke collection at the Jewish Museum in Cape Town. There you will find two hundred beautifully presented little carvings, most no bigger than 3 centimetres in height.

Looking isn’t enough – my fingers itched to palm them. They are so perfectly tactile.

Imagine then my joy at discovering that we have several netsuke books in Christchurch Libraries. The latest offering is Carving Japanese netsuke for beginners by Robert Jubb. Let’s just say that until a netsuke book is written that starts at some subterranean level well below Beginners, I am going to have to love these little objects from the standpoint of an observer.

There are things I am never going to do that I never wanted to do: bowling, abseiling, yodelling. And then there are things I am never going to do because I can’t, carving netsuke for one. This should depress me, instead I feel uplifted that netsuke exist – so small and perfectly formed.

How about you? What’s your netsuke moment, the thing you’d love to do but never will because you know you can’t?

10 thoughts on “Small but perfectly formed

  1. michaelbaitken 22 March 2012 / 11:42 am

    According to http://www.netsuke.org: “Canterbury Museum (Christchurch). (32 sets of inro and netsuke, 65 netsuke, 3 related items; most on permanent display, in the lovely and well displayed Asian Gallery of Japanese). Sir Joseph Kinsey, after his death his collection was donated by his daughter to the Canterbury Museum in the 1950’s. ” I’m not sure if they are actually currently on display but might be worht a wander down there.

  2. robertafsmith 22 March 2012 / 2:35 pm

    That is well worth knowing, thanks for the heads up!

  3. Donna 22 March 2012 / 4:23 pm

    Gymnastics is my netsuke.

    • robertafsmith 22 March 2012 / 5:49 pm

      That’s a pity Donna, as I can picture you flying through the air with the greatest of ease, and you’d be so light to catch – or am I getting confused with acrobatics here?

  4. clurbee 22 March 2012 / 9:39 pm

    It’s Quilting for me. Even after a rather drastic earthquake induced de-clutter I have far too many scraps of old clothes that I am saving for the memory quilt I know I shall never make. Maybe a quitting fairy will stop by one day…

    • robertafsmith 23 March 2012 / 7:09 am

      I know you mean Quilting fairy, but there is something deeply Freudian about a quitting fairy too!

  5. Sheila Starke 22 March 2012 / 9:57 pm

    For me it is learning to dance the Tango. Ever since seeing “Scent of a Woman”, it has been one of the things I have longed to do. To quote the above reply…. Maybe a Tango Fairy will stop by one day…….

    • robertafsmith 23 March 2012 / 7:10 am

      I hope it’s when I am on holiday – it would make a great photo!

  6. purplerulz 23 March 2012 / 10:47 am

    Synchronized swimming is my netsuke, and yes I”m serious. I have been mocked more than once for my love of this art / sport!
    I love the costumes, the hair dos that defy both gravity and water, and the fixed smiles that would give child beauty pagent contestants a run for thier money.
    But mostly, I admire the agility, strength and determination these women must have to do what they do!

    • robertafsmith 23 March 2012 / 3:51 pm

      As an aquajogger, and wonder if that is a first step to synchronised swimming?

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