Mammoth Ivory Dog on a Horse, 18K Gold Vermeil Pin & Pendant

Approx 1 3/4" x 1"


This whimsical mammoth ivory netsuke is a dog riding a horse.  The netsuke is signed near the tail by the artist that carved it .  It is beautifully carved showing the great facial expressions and the detail of both animals.  It measures 1 3/4” by 1” and is framed on the back with 18k gold vermeil and can be worn as either a pin or a pendant using the bale in the back.

The horse, in symbolism and image, has forever been a staple of Chinese art showing that horses have always held a special status in Chinese culture.  The horse, symbolic of nobility, wisdom, practicality, love, endurance, devotion and stability, worn as amulet to invoke good luck, especially in love affairs.  Those born in the year of the horse are usually well liked, intelligent, self-reliant and passionate. It is also a symbol for quick advancement in rank, and recognition of strength. 

The dog is regarded as a faithful companion and is, therefore symbolic of friendship and loyalty. .  It is believed that if a strange dog comes and stays with you it is a good omen, indicating a wealthy future. The dog is a talisman for protection against thieves, evil spirits and all kinds of illness.  They are the guardians of the many temples and shrines in the Orient.  People born in the year of the dog have the best human traits:  loyalty, honesty and good leadership qualities.  Although they care little for money they are never without it .

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

Mammoth Ivory comes from the extinct mammoth elephant that roamed the Earth during the Pliocene era from around 4.8 million to 4,500 years ago. Because they are extinct they are not endangered and therefore, are legal and save the African elephant.  The artisans that carved elephant ivory are now carving mammoth ivory that is recovered in Siberia.