Looking at, describing and identifying objects
Looking at, describing and identifying objects

This free course is available to start right now. Review the full course description and key learning outcomes and create an account and enrol if you want a free statement of participation.

Free course

Looking at, describing and identifying objects

5 Life cycle: consumption

The early life of the nineteenth-century netsuke is not recorded but information held by the museum helps reconstruct the ‘consumption’ stage of the netsuke’s biography. The ‘Acquisition notes’ say it was acquired in Japan. It was probably given as a ‘ritual gift’ by the then emperor of Japan, Hirohito (1901–1989), to the Duke of Gloucester when the duke made a state visit to Japan in 1929 to confer the Order of the Garter on the emperor (Best, 2005; and see Figure 4). The visit was designed to improve Anglo-Japanese relations, and amid much exchange of ceremonial awards it seems likely that the netsuke was a gift rather than a private purchase. In these circumstances the netsuke was acting in a ceremonial role as a prestige gift rather than simply being an ordinary present of a belt toggle. Subsequently, the netsuke was transported around the world and became part of the collection of the Duke of Gloucester.

Described image
Figure 4  Emperor Hirohito being decorated with the Order of the Garter by the Duke of Gloucester, 1 June 1929. Photo: Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to university level study, find out more about the types of qualifications we offer, including our entry level Access courses and Certificates.

Not ready for University study then browse over 900 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus