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20th century

Both made of corozo nut, one with with bone and dark horn inlaid eyes, of archaic design, with a smooth finish.

H. approx. 5.5 and 4.7 cm

The Peter E. Müller Collection, Küsnacht


M. Rutherston, Japanese Masks, Peter E. Müller, 2017, no. 182 (ill.)


Vegetable ivory or tagua nut is a product made from the very hard white endosperm of the seeds of certain palm trees. Vegetable ivory is named for its resemblance to animal ivory. Species in the genus Phytelephas (literally "elephant plant"), native to South America, are the most important sources of vegetable ivory. The seeds of the Caroline ivory-nut palm from the Caroline Islands, natangura palm from Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, and the real fan palm, from Sub-Saharan Africa, are also used to produce vegetable ivory. A tagua palm can take up to 15 years to mature. But once it gets to this stage it can go on producing vegetable ivory for up to 100 years. In any given year a tagua palm can produce up to 20 pounds of vegetable ivory. The material is called corozo or corosso when used in buttons.

Pair of Grotesque corozo nut Mask Netsuke

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