Netsuke: miniature masterpieces

Around the mid Edo period, let's say the 18th century, both men and women used to wear the traditional kimono called kosode ("small sleeves" kimono), a robe with no pockets kept together by a large sash, the obi, tied around the waist. But while women used to keep small objects inside the sleeves, men used to carry their personal accessories by hanging them from the sash; such sagemono ("suspended items") comprised money pouches, smoking accessories and inrō to store seals or herbal medicine. Each item would be attached to a double silk cord, about 20 cm long, which would have a netsuke attached at the end: when the sagemono is worn the cord would then be behind the sash and the netsuke would work as a stopper, showing itself from above. For this reason, netsuke always have two holes on the bottom, called himotoshi, where the double cord was inserted. On older netsuke, those really used as explained, we often see one himotoshi larger than the other one: that is because both the cords were inserted through the same hole and then knotted: the large hole would have then accommodated the knot hiding it inside the netsuke itself.

We deal in high-level antique netsuke by the major carvers. For your convenience and due to the recent international regulations, we have divided them into two categories: ivory and non-ivory items. Please contact us for any information.


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