ONLINE lecture series 2

Netsuke: Masterpieces of
Japanese Miniature Sculpture
TUESDAY, December 12, 2023
7:00PM-7:40PM (PT)



Netsuke are small toggles that are attached to the end of the cords used to hang various accessories – like tobacco pouches, writing sets and medicine containers – from the kimono sash, or obi. The cord is passed underneath the obi and the netsuke hangs over the top of the sash, securing the accessory in place. Netsuke are made of a variety of materials and are often masterpieces of sculpture, often carved into animals, insects, comical human figures and even lucky gods. 

In conjunction with Japan Foundation's video series, Doors to the Arts of Japan, Japanese art historian Meher McArthur will introduce these miniature works of art, exploring their evolution in Japanese kimono culture, their production and their popularity with collectors around the world. The short lecture will be followed with a brief Q&A session.

Photo: The Hare with the Amber Eyes Netsuke, by Masatoshi, Osaka, c.1880, ivory, amber buffalo horn, held in the collection of Edmund de Waal

About the lecturer

Meher McArthur
Meher McArthur is an Asian art historian specializing in Japanese art, with degrees from Cambridge University and London University’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). She was Curator of East Asian Art at Pacific Asia Museum, Pasadena, CA (1998-2006) and for over a decade has curated traveling exhibitions for International Arts & Artists (IA&A), most recently Washi Transformed: New Expressions in Japanese Paper (2021-2024) on view at the Mingei International Museum in San Diego until January 7, 2024. Her most recent exhibition SHIKI: The Four Seasons in Japanese Art opened at the Sturt Haaga Gallery at Descanso Gardens in February 2023. She was Creative Director for the Storrier Stearns Japanese Garden, Pasadena (2014-2020), Academic Curator for Scripps College, Claremont (2018-2020) and Art and Cultural Director for JAPAN HOUSE Los Angeles (2020-2022). Her major publications include Gods and Goblins: Folk Paintings from Otsu (PAM, 1999), Reading Buddhist Art (Thames & Hudson, 2002) and The Arts of Asia (Thames & Hudson, 2005), Confucius (Pegasus Books, 2011), Folding Paper: The Infinite Possibilities of Origami (IA&A, 2012), New Expressions in Origami Art (Tuttle, 2017), Washi Transformed: New Expressions in Japanese Paper  (IA&A, 2021) and An ABC of What Art Can Be (The Getty Museum, 2010).


More netsuke stories?Check our video seires:
Doors to Arts of JAPAN

Netsuke : Art Piece that Sits on the Palm

This vide explores the artistic vision and stories behind each piece, the thoughts of the artisans and collectors, the possibilities opened up by these small Netsuke, and their appeal. Click Here!

The next ONLINE LECTURE SERIES will be about NINGYO (Dolls) will be held on Thursday, January 18.

Event Details:

  • Date Dec 12 , 2023
  • Hours 7PM-7:40PM
  • Venue Online
  • Admission Free, Registration Required
  • Inquiries 323-761-7510

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