Elephant Netsuke

Posted on by inaka

fineartantlercarvingnetsukeelephantAn elephant is one of those animals that every child learns to identify, yet is also an animal that most people rarely see. Consequently, while we are sure what an elephant is, it would be difficult for most people to sketch one with any degree of detail.

It is like the parable of the seven blind men who describe an elephant by running their respective hands over only one part of the animal. We can add a trunk to the front of a large bulky animal and put some big ears on the side of the head and maybe some tusks sticking out the front somewhere, but can we really give the picture any more specific information? 

I came face to face with this when carving this piece. I started with the basics, but was soon faced with many questions like how thick and long are the legs relative to the body and how wide the head? Where exactly do the tusks and ears go? How many toes does an elephant have?  There are also a large number of bumps and depressions in the skull and around the hips. Nonetheless, thanks to the internet, I was able to find the answers to these questions and make this netsuke sized elephant.

The elephant is carved from a single piece of moose antler and depicts a full grown Asian elephant porting a ceremonial blanket and pannier on its back.

5.5cm L x 4.4 cm H x 3.0 cm D
2.25”L x 1.75”H x 1.25”D

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