An interview with ceramicist and author Edmund de Waal about his book "The Hare With Amber eyes".
The book was inspired by tiny Japanese sculptures - Netsuke - that were passed down through five generations of de Waal's family.
Edmund de Waal's Netsuke Gallery - http://www.edmunddewaal.com/hare_with_amber_eyes/hare_netsuke_gallery.html
The potter Edmund de Waal was a 17-year-old apprentice when he first set eyes on his great-uncle's collection of Japanese netsuke. Only later, when he inherited the tiny carvings, did he begin to understand the extraordinary story they told.
Netsuke are very small. Smaller than a matchbox, often as small as the joint of my little-finger, these Japanese ivory, bone and wooden carvings are hard explosions of exactitude. You roll them in your hands and find the carver has added a joke: the tail of a disappearing rat, a deliquescent plum fallen from a basket. Some of the netsuke are studies in running movement, so that your fingers move along a surface of uncoiling rope or spilt water. Others have small, congested movements that knot your touch: a girl in a wooden bath, a vortex of clam shells. Some do both, surprising you: an intricately ruffled dragon leans against a simple rock. You work your fingers round the smoothness and stoniness of the ivory to meet this sudden density of dragon. There is often a supplementary pleasure in finding where the signature of the carver is placed, on the sole of a sandal, the end of a branch, the thorax of a hornet.