The Bear

Bear Netsuke
Bear Netsuke
Bear Netsuke
Bear Netsuke
Bear Netsuke
Bear Netsuke



Type: Netsuke

Sold. Russia, private collection.

Materials: Hippo incisors. Mammoth tusk, amber, ebony and jet inlay.

Dimensions: (bear)49×32×16 mm, (stump)57×36×19 mm.

Weight: 40.3 g.


Bear is a very infrequent theme in netsuke, and the reason of such infrequency is really unknown to me. I have asked many people, why the bear has been so rarely depicted in netsuke, but I got no straight answer, speculations only. If you know the answer, please let me know.

Netsuke is composed of two parts featuring bear and tree trunk.

Bear is carved from a baby elephant tusk and stained black. The bear's eyes are inlayed with jet. Inscription on the amber insert is of Baltic amber.

Trunk is shaped from Mexican manzanita. Colour is original. Wood was synthetically aged for getting more grain. Black insert is made of African ebony. Leaves and himatoshi outline in the form of clustered bees are made of mammoth ivory. Honeycomb and bead are of Baltic amber.

The wooden part has three himatoshi holes and may be worn as individual netsuke, or in combination with the bear. Inner inscription is under the smallest cluster of leaves and may be identified using X-ray.