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?