Old Ivory God of Longevity Netsuke, Baltic Amber

Approx 19", pendant 2" x 2 1/2"


This item cannot be shipped outside the US.

This old ivory netsuke has been combined with Baltic amber to set off his fabulous features.  He is nicely carved showing his dragon staff.  The rich amber is a deep honey color.                                

One of the gods of good fortune.  The God of longevity happiness and wealth, Fukurokuju or Shou-xing, often shown holding a peach and and a dragon staff, is symbolic of  a long and healthy life.  Legend has it that Shou-xing lives in a palace at the South Pole surrounded by a garden of aromatic herbs.  He is kept within the household to promote good health and long life to the occupants.

 The Greeks believed amber, prehistoric fossilized resin from ancient trees, was a kiss from the sun.  Baltic amber, which is millions of years old and often trapped the life of that time as it solidified creating a mini prehistoric map, has been used as ornamentation since the Stone Age.  It is considered good luck and is often given as a wedding gift..  It has been worn since the Stone Age as jewelry.

Japanese artists starting in the 17th century cleverly invented the miniature sculptures known as netsuke  to serve a very practical function.  Traditional Japanese had no pockets. Men who wore them needed a place to keep personal belongings such as pipes, tobacco, money, seals, or medicines.  They kept them in a pouch or box that was suspended from a cord and netsuke that was used as a counter weight as the pouch hung over his sash.


Such objects, often of great artistic merit, have a long history reflecting important aspects of Japanese folklore and life. Netsuke production was most popular during the Edo period in Japan, around 1615-1868. Today, the art lives on and carvers, a few of whose modern works command high prices are in the UK, Europe, the USA, Japan and elsewhere. Prices at auctions in the USA for collectible netsuke typically range from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand depending on the quality of the carving and the artist. Traditionally, netsukes have been carved from mammoth and elephant ivory, ebony, fossil walrus tusk, mahogany, rosewood and hippopotamus tooth.  The netsukes, often signed by the artist, are getting harder to find as the detail in each piece takes patience and time