Mammoth Ivory Rabbits, Rutilated Quartz Necklace

 Approx 20” long including pendant

 Netsuke pendant 2” x 1 1/4”


These two mammoth ivory rabbits playing with each other are a wonderfully carved netsuke and are signed on the bottom by the artist who carved them.  I have beaded them with 13 mm dense rutilated quartz that has  forest greens and rust  in the beads.  Some of the beads are less dense and are clear enough to see the rutiles in the beads.  It is finished with a large 18k gold vermeil clasp.

The rabbit is symbolic of virtue and speed and also symbolic of longevity.  Those born in the year of the rabbit are intelligent, successful in business and lucky in love.  

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.

Rutile is a major ore of titanium, which is a metal used for high tech alloys. It often forms needle-like crystal inclusions inside quartz.  This form of quartz is known as rutilated quartz and it looks like small bars of imbedded gold or other colors. It can be dense with these inclusions or clear where the inclusions add little color.  Rutilated quartz has been referred to as Cupid's darts.

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.