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]

Gotheborg.com

Gotheborg.com

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    

19thc Very Fine Signed Miniature Okimono/netsukeAntique Japanese Carved Boxwood Netsuke Of A Fox And Child, Rare Subject SuperbAntique Japanese Carved Boxwood Shibayama Manju Netsuke, Meiji, 19th Century.Antique Japanese Carved Boxwood Netsuke Of A Quail, Signed Okatomo Meiji, RareAntique Japanese Netsuke Of The Songoku Monkey King.Antique Japanese Carved Boxwood Netsuke Of A Immortal With Peach, Signed MeijiAntique Japanese Rare Silver Single Case Inro, Ojime For Use With Netsuke SuperbAntique Japanese Netsuke Of Man Holding Cage With Songbird - Signed PieceFine Antique Japanese Edo / Meiji Carved & Lacquered Wooden Netsuke Of Daruma NrJapanese Netsuke Of Man With Theatrical Mask Playing With Boy - Signed Antique Japanese Carved Boxwood Netsuke Of Mother Monkey & Baby, Meiji Period.Antique Japanese Carved Boxwood Netsuke Of A Samurai And Oil Thief, Superb MeijiAntique Japanese Carved Boxwood Netsuke Of Gamma Sennin, Signed Masanao MeijiFine Antique 19c Japanese Edo / Meiji Carved Staghorn Stag Antler Bone NetsukeAntique Japanese Hand Carved Okimono Netsuke Xixc#9934 Japanese Samurai Meiji Antique Teppo Netsuke (miniature Matchlock Style)Antique Japanese Netsuke Of A Huge Peach.An Outstanding Antique Japanese Erotic Netsuke/okimono Of A Geisha Girl. MeijiAntique Figural Japanese Samurai Inkwell Meiji Era Netsuke Okimono Minerva 19th Antique Japanese Netsuke Ofjurojin And Child Signed.4 Japanese Netsuke Beautifully CarvedAntique Japanese Netsuke Of Gourds.A Stunning Antique Japanese Meiji Boxwood Netsuke - Mid 19th Century - Signed Antique Japanese Carved Boxwood Netsuke Of A Skeleton & Skull, Memento Mori RareJapanese Antique 19th Cent Signed Netsuke Woman KitsuneSuperb Meiji Edo Wooden Netsuke Cow Signed Japanese Excelent Carving DetailsAntique Japanese Netsuke Of Ginko Nuts Signed Okatomo.Antique Japanese Carved Boxwood Netsuke Of A Octopus Disguised As A Human Superb19thc Signed Lacquer Netsuke Of A SneezerVintage Japanese Netsuke Seven Lucky Gods Of Fortune ? - SignedVery Old Japanese Netsuke Jackal (or Volf) With CrabVintage Japanese Netsuke Carving Bird Crane Stork Protecting Eggs - SignedAntique Japanes Netsuke Of A Standing Sennin, Staff In Hand, Late Edo/early MeijAntique Old Chinese Nephrite White Jade Pendant Netsuke Plaque Deer Crane Ruyi19thc Signed Lacquer Netsuke Of A SneezerSigned High Quality Antique Japanese Carved Stag Antler Netsuke Edo Meiji PeriodEarly 19th Century Japanese Edo Period Boxwood NetsukeAntique Carved Walnut NetsukeNetsuke Man & Boy With Scroll Carving JapanDog And Puppy Netsuke Katabori Signed JapaneseEstate Vtg Antique Carved Netsuke Buddha Figurine Miniature Sculpture Signed Antique Japanese Hand Carved Okimono Netsuke - The DogSigned High Quality Antique Japanese Carved Stag Antler Netsuke Edo Meiji PeriodAntique Japanese Netsuke Of Hanasaka Jijii On Stump.Antique Old Chinese Nephrite White Jade Pendant Netsuke Toggle Fairy Boy W/goose19th Century Malacca Cane / Parasol Handle Mounted With Japanese Carved NetsukeAntique Wild Boar NetsukeEstate Vtg Antique Hand Carved Netsuke Buddha Figurine Miniature Mini SculptureHigh Quality Antique Japanese Carved Stag Antler Netsuke Geisha Edo Meiji Period Old Antique Japanese Netsuke 19 Th Century 100% AuthenticResin Okimono Netsuke Elephant & Lion Bridge Faux Bone Carving On Wood StandSigned High Quality Antique Japanese Carved Stag Antler Netsuke Edo Meiji PeriodD877: Real Old Japanese Cultural Netsuke With Fine Openwork And Leather PouchSuperb Netsuke / Okimono Of A Gheisa Meiji EraVintage Japanese Carved Netsuke Of RatSuperb Antique Netsuke Of Hotei Great Old PatinaNice Old Chinese Jadeite Emerald Jade Pendant Netsuke Powerful Dragon ImageAntique Old Chinese Nephrite Celadon Jade Pendant Netsuke Monkey On BambooEstate Antique Hand Carved Netsuke Sitting Buddha Sculpture Wood StandD747: Japanese Wood Carving Ware Netsuke Of Frog Statue With Very Good Work