Edmund De Waal

Edmund de Waal explains his collection of 264 netsuke. Describing how these tiny 17th century ivory objects are both loseable and forgettable, he goes on to tell of their biographical significance. De Waal initially traces the netsuke‚Äôs story to his own childhood, to when he was a 17-year-old travelling through Japan as a pottery apprentice. Then finding his great uncle Iggy in Tokyo, and first seeing the collection of netsuke (hundreds of them) sitting on glass shelves, their story gets revealed and stretched back through Iggy’s memory and history. Uncle Iggy was endowed with these netsuke from his parents, overwhelmingly rich Jews who lived in a monstrous pink-gold place in Vienna. Before Vienna they had been in Paris and before Paris, they had undoubtedly been somewhere else. De Waal questions and explores how these tiny Japanese objects can reflect generations of his family’s identity, inheritance and diaspora.