A wood Netsuke, depicting a larger mandarin orange with smaller fruit attached to a branch. Dating to the 19th century, late Edo period bearing a good patina. It’s reminiscent of Tanba school carvings but our Netsuke has a wonderful secret. Running down the two leaves are Ukibori vines and the pealed back skin to the side of the larger fruit reveals Ukibori pimples.
The natural Himotoshi is formed by the branch running across the top of the fruit.
What is Ukibori?
Ukibori is a carving technique developed in Japan. My following explanation sounds simple but having spoken to a modern-day Netsuke carver it’s an incredibly risky and difficult skill to master.
Firstly, a tool is fashioned to the shape required, it is then pressed into the wood compacting the wood and forming the desired pattern or shape. The wood is then sanded down to the level of the indented design. This process may be repeated several times to ensure the design is fully compressed. Once satisfied, the wood is then placed in hot water and the compressed areas of the wood rise above the ground. The technique allows a carver to render very fine details and surface textures.
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