Miniature Water Buffalo

This miniature water buffalo was carved by Lu Kesi from water buffalo horn as a gift for someone born in the year of the ox. It’s about the same size as a traditional Japanese netsuke, but without the cord hole drilled through the bottom. The Chinese used them too—called toggles in English—and probably invented the idea, but the Japanese are currently much better known for these miniature works of art.

The second photo was taken before it was polished and varnish applied.

The bottom photo shows the underside before it was complete. You might be able to see the signature and date in the shadow under the top leg. Below this are natural circular cracks in the material—a little like tree rings, which went all the way through but luckily were much less prominent on the top.

  • Collection: Robert Pater
  • Material: water buffalo horn
  • Inscription: Lvke 2009
  • Date: 2009