The netsuke is a personal decoration, a handling piece, dating back to the 17th century Japan. It was a well known tradition to buy a Shunga for newly married couples, and was typically used as a sexual guide for the children of wealthy families in Japan. Here you see the combination of male and female with a subtle reference bodhisattva like-male, with his elongated ear (on one side of the netsuke), and the female hair dress on the other. From the top you see two different hair treatments and the himotoshi (hole for the cord for attachment). The back-side is self explanatory, and has a mark on the left cheek, which we believe to say coupling or joining. Artist is unknown, and not signed. Age: 20th century piece. Material: Fruitwood. Condition: The carving is not as refined as those in ivory or horn, but the overall condition is good. Dimensions: 1 3/8”w x7/8”d x 1 ½”h (3.5cm x 2.25cm x 3.8cm)
Shunga is a Japanese term for erotic art. Translated literally, Shunga means “picture of spring” (Spring being a euphemism for sex). In the Edo period it was enjoyed by rich and poor, men and women, and despite being out of favor with the Shogunate, carried very little stigma. Shunga themes appear in print form, (woodblocks, scrolls, and panel floor screens), textiles, (primarily worn by men), carvings, (netsuke and shop signs), and on porcelain and pottery.
Shunga was popular with all the ukiyo-e artists, as it was more profitable than “normal” art. Few Shunga pieces however bear signatures or seals. There was a time when they were subject to official censorship. Classifying Shunga as a kind of pornography can be misleading in this respect. They were used for sex education of young men and women.
Excellent Condition- In unused, or like-unused condition. No visual or structural or surface wear or damage shown. Pristine. As good as the day it was made.
Great Condition- Appears in slightly used condition but looks "Like New". Some minor wear, but retains the original craft/workmanship. May show minor wear, that does not affect the main design, or associated motif. No cracks, dents, chips or missing elements.
Good Condition- Minor wear which can be restored or repaired; may have surface flaws, like staining or soiling, confined to a small area. The flaw(s) are counterbalanced by another feature, like brilliant color or innovative design. Some fading or the piece may have been altered in some fashion.
Fair Condition- Main aesthetic/design showing damage. Excessive noticeable wear or damage. Worth buying if can be restored/repaired because of its aesthetic or design appeal or rarity. Note: wear/damage consistent with age/use can often enhance the 'Antique' qualities of a piece, giving it a desirable second chance in one's collection