Netsuke originated in 17th century Japan as a means for men who wore robes known as kimono, which lacked pockets, to hold their belongings. Containers called "sagemono"—pouches, woven baskets, or beautifully crafted boxes called "inro"—were attached to the robes' sashes with cords and fasteners known as netsuke.

These ornaments, often made of ivory or coral, were not merely utilitarian devices, however, as they were often beautifully carved and decorated. In recent years, they have become exceedingly popular among collectors.

The themes depicted on netsuke, only a few inches in size, are endless, though they are often focused on Japanese history and mythology—from depictions of warriors to animals. There are dozens of styles of netsuke, such as kataborinesuke, which is sculptural netsuke, and mennetsuke, which is mask netsuke.

These miniature sculptures are still made today. Fine antique netsuke can be identified by its intricate design and use of pricey materials such as ivory (which was not illegal in the 17th through 19th centuries), jade, or precious stones. Cheaper netsuke is carved out of wood or bone.

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Asian Art Museum

Asian Art Museum

You can get happily lost searching through the 10,000 or so objects on the Asian Art Museum's website. For example,… [read review or visit site]

Jan-Erik Nilsson's extensive reference on antique Chinese porcelain. Jam-packed with information (e.g. on porcelain… [read review or visit site]

Clubs & Associations

Most watched eBay auctions    

Japanese Antique 19th Cent Meiji Cow Bone & Boxwood Rare Oni Manju NetsukeAntique Edo Period Japanese Netsuke Hand Carved Hand Painted 14k Gold PendantRare Masterpiece Carved Asia Oriental Chinese Bone Dragon Statue Netsuke OkimonoNetsuke Tengu Mask Handmade From AntlerJapanese Shibuichi Daruma Netsuke KagamibutaG017: Chinese Green Stone Gyoku Ware Personal Ornaments Or Netsuke. 2Netsuke Frog Handmade From AntlerOriental Erotic Netsuke 2Antique Japanese Carved Netsuke Giesha Girl Holding Bird Signed Nice Cross HatchShibuichi Kagamibuta Netsuke Of Jimmu, First Emperor Of JapanJapanese Netsuke Okimono Geisha Erotica Shunga Statue ArtNetsuke Hotei In Sack Handmade From AntlerOriental Erotic Netsuke 1Netsuke Frog On Pumpkin Handmade From AntlerG174: Real Old Japanese Cultural Netsuke Of High-quality Material. Ring Type Pair Vintage Chinese Hand Carved Boxwood Netsuke Koi Fantail Goldfish SculpturesFine Japanese Signed Bronze Torii Tori Gate Okimono Nezumi Netsuke Art StatueOkami Netsuke Style Chibiterasu Wolf Amaterasu Chibi Sculpture By Yokai ParadeOld Japanese Inro & NetsukeAntique Japanese Cow Bone Netsuke - Rat Mice On Bag Carving SignedA Japanese Wooden Cup With Netsuke Old Chinese Nephrite Celadon Jade Statue/pendant/netsuke~lotus Root/ruyi/crab~Rare Meiji Japanese Genuine Antique Yatate "dragon" -644 / NetsukeCertified Fine Rare Natural A Jadeite Jade Gorgeous Dragon Big Netsuke Nr3 Of Set Good Wood Stand For Netsuke ,snuff Bottle, Carving DisplayOld Chinese Nephrite Celadon Jade Fish Pendant/netsuke~affluence Year After Year3 Vintage Netsuke Figures,japonese, Early 1900's, Estate, Fine In Mint ConditionJapanese ? Carved Wood ? Resin ? Netsuke; CatsOld Chinese Ox Horn Carved Statue/netsuke~duck W/ Corn~beautiful Quality, No Res8pcs Japanese Netsuke Boxwood Hand Carved Mouse Monkey Elephant Pig Dog SignedPretty Wood Stand /shelf For Netsuke / Snuff Bottles Or Curios NrJapanese Netsuke Okimono Geisha2 Erotica Shunga Statue ArtGroup Of 3 Three Signed Vintage Japanese Netsukes Lot 3 ~ Incl Dual FacedAntique Japanese Cow Bone Netsuke - 3 Swimming Carp Fishes Koi Carving Hn1652Erotic Wooden NetsukeBoxwood Wood Netsuke "tortoise" Carving (wn258)Old Chinese Nephrite Celadon Jade Carved Statue/pendant/netsuke~cute MonkeyChina Rare Collectibles Old Decorated Handwork Boxwood Carving Fish NetsukePretty Wood Stand /shelf For Netsuke / Snuff Bottles Or Curios NrNetsuke - Wood Oni - Japan - 19th CenturyJapanese Lady In Kimono Dress & Shopping Bag - Awesome Bone Carved NetsukeOld Fine Chinese Ox Horn Carved Netsuke/pendant/toggle~magpie On Plum BlossomMartin Perry - Qts - Small Otters & Fish Figurine - Inspired By Netsuke - BnibOkami Netsuke Style Cat / Neko Totem Sculpture By Yokai ParadeAntique Japanese Bone Netsuke - 5 Bunny Rabbit On Radish Carving Hn1639Rare Edo Period 7 Cases Inro With Fine Netsuke Geisha Okimono Suzuribako KiseruPretty Wood Stand /shelf For Netsuke / Snuff Bottles Or Curios NrBoxwood Wood Japanese Netsuke Mouse Playing With Tortoise Carving Wn113Chinese Nice Cattle-bone Carved Bring Lucky Man Japanese Netsuke Y190Antique Japanese Authentic Hand Carved Netsuke Man In Swing SignedF858: Real Old Japanese Cultural Netsuke Of Gama Hermit Statue With Good TasteHarmony Kingdom Bush Baby Netsuke Tjnbu W/ Box, Limited EditionAntique Japanese Cow Bone Netsuke - Zodiac Monkey On Wood Carving Hn1558 Boxwood Wood Netsuke Japanese Demon Carving Wn816Harmony Kingdom - Georgie - Netsuke - Dragon - 2 1/2 " Tall - New In Orig. Box +Yatate Japanese Edo Era Antique Portable Inkwell And Brush Holder With"netsuke"Pretty Wood Stand /shelf For Netsuke / Snuff Bottles Or Curios NrDog In Pail NetsukeNetsuke/okimonoNetsuke/okimono