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Erotic Netsuke: Sexual Connotations in Mammoth Ivory
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From simple animal representations, the Netsuke quickly gave way to a variety of art forms including erotic Netsuke, which has become a popular collectible in modern times. Basically erotic netsuke is known as the form of Shunga art where the sexual connotations are freely represented in figural and symbolic forms. The word ‘Erotica’ evolved from the Greek ‘Eros’ meaning Love and came to symbolize works of art related to erotically stimulating literature, film, sculpture and photography.

The free symbolic expression of erotica found its roots in the traditional Netsuke, giving a widely popular subject an easy reign in a conservative society. There has been the ancient tradition of erotic paintings in the cultures of the East. In Japan, the development of erotic art came to be in the 13th century, while during the Ming dynasty Chinese erotic art came to be widely acclaimed.

Within the closed and conservative Japanese society, the erotic Netsuke enabled the Japanese to freely represent their views, customs without the repression of the ruler. These different erotic netsuke helped in ancient sex education and were popular gifts to newly wed.

Shunga Netsuke, meaning ‘Spring’ or sex, were inspired by the Chinese medical chronicles which gave a pictographic representation of the process. These were predominantly made during the Muromachi Era or 1330s-1570s.

The Shunga Netsuke was used as sexual guide for the wealthy people in Japan but over the centuries was discontinued due to lack of verbal descriptions and impossible positions. Over time, better guides with proper verbal descriptions were introduced and the Netsuke became heirlooms, passed on through the generations. The value of antique erotic netsuke is high due to the numerous collectors who regard it for the intrinsic carvings and theme.

In modern times, there has been a renewal of demand in erotic Netsuke worldwide and apart from the value of the rare mammoth ivory, these Netsuke are highly collectible. Carved from highly valuable as it is a fossil, mammoth ivory is limited in number which increases its value with time.

The erotic netsuke is carved in miniature sizes with each detail clearly visible. The postures vary and some of them are themed on Kamasutra or the Indian sex guides positions. The ancient traditions on the study of the variety of positions are reflected with great art by the expert Netsuke artists.

Mammoth ivory netsuke is prized possessions and known for their intricate carvings, designs and beautiful sculpting in miniature sizes.

Browse our Erotic Netsuke Collection

Browse our Netsuke collection

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