BRIEF DESCRIPTIONThis is a porcelain netsuke in the form of a rabbit or hare.WHERE WAS IT MADE?This netsuke was made in Japan.HOW WAS IT MADE?Netsuke made from porcelain, like this one, were hand-modeled from a white clay containing kaolin, then glazed and fired in a kiln.HOW WAS IT USED?During the Edo period (1603-1868), the standard attire for a well-dressed Japanese man consisted of a kimono tied with a sash. Because kimonos had no pockets, accessory bags and carrying cases (called sagemono: hanging things) were used to hold personal items such as money, medicines, tobacco and seals (a stamp carved with the owner’s name). Silken cords, attached to the sagemono, were threaded through the kimono sash (obi). A toggle, called a netsuke, was attached to the other end of the cord to prevent it from slipping through the sash. To see a netsuke with an inro—one popular type of sagemono that consisted of small, stacked compartments for holding medicines—search for object number 98.087.006 in the keyword search box.The term netsuke comes from the words “ne”, meaning ‘root’ and “tsuke”, meaning ‘to fasten.’ Early netsuke may have been made from found objects such as pieces of roots, nuts, coral and bone. Over time, netsuke production became more and more varied, refined, and innovative, reaching a high point in the early 19th century. Subjects and decoration of netsuke and sagemono reflected the tastes and aspirations of their owners, often infused with an element of comic irony. As clothing traditions modernized, netsuke came to be collected separately from sagemono, and appreciated as sculptural gems in their own right.WHY DOES IT LOOK LIKE THIS?The Chinese calendar follows a sixty-year cycle, broken into five twelve-year units. Each of the twelve years is associated with an animal. The day is also divided into twelve periods, each associated with one of the twelve animals. The animals associated with the year and the hour of one’s birth have long been used in some Asian countries to predict one’s character and personality traits. The animals of the zodiac became popular subjects for netsuke during the 19th century, as people became interested in purchasing netsuke depicting the animal associated with their birth year, as well as building collections of all twelve animals. The twelve animals are rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog and pig.The rabbit is associated with qualities such as graciousness, sensitivity, and kindness. The hare also appears in Japanese folklore as the animal who can be seen on the moon, pounding rice in a large mortar to make mochi, sticky cakes of rice. To see another netsuke showing the hare on the moon in the Johnson Museum’s collection, search for object number 73.005.188 in the keyword search box.