A Silent Witness

Silent Witness Netsuke
Silent Witness Netsuke
Silent Witness Netsuke
Silent Witness Netsuke
Silent Witness Netsuke



Type: Netsuke & Ojime

Sold. USA, private collection.

Materials: Ebony. Amber, jet and mother-of-pearl inlay.

Dimensions: 52×34×32 mm. (netsuke); 19×14×16 mm. (ojime)


A shiny black eggplant is hiding a little mouse burrowing into its soft and juicy flesh. A large attentive owl is sliding quietly through the warm nocturnal air softly beating its wings; its acute sight and hearing are attuned to everything around it. Just one careless movement of the mouse is enough to make the owl aware of this almost imperceptible rustling sound. The tremendous evolutionary experience of the owl's predatory ancestors allows it to accurately pinpoint its prey's location. The owl performs a smooth turnabout in the air and swoops down while extending its powerful legs with their long and sharp curving talons...

Only the full pearlescent moon serves as a quiet witness of this story's ending. Quite possibly the owl will catch the mouse and quench its hunger. Yet the mouse may still have a chance to sneak away in the darkness and the owl will end up with nothing but an inedible eggplant in its claws. The silent moon alone knows the whole story...

I like owls, these mysterious birds of prey. Sometimes I can see them flying at dusk; sometimes I find them sleeping in the trees during the day when I go on one of my forest outings. I managed to take some good pictures of these unusual birds. You can see them here.

This netsuke is carved from a fine piece of ebony wood. The mouse is carved as an integral part of the eggplant; it's dyed in a lighter shade for contrast. Its eyes are inlaid with jet stone.

The owl's shining eyes are inlaid with translucent yellow Baltic amber; its sharp beak is inlaid with African buffalo horn. The owl's body and wings outline are suggested by fine engraving.

The full moon is inlaid with mother-of-pearl from the black-lip pearl oyster (Pinctada margaritifera).

My signature is engraved in an amber reserve on the bottom.

The natural himotoshi is formed by the eggplant's curving stem.

The ojime is part of the set. It's carved from ebony wood. The beetle's elytra are inlaid with jet. Signed.