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    

Japanese Antique 18th Century Edo Period Fine Quality Boxwood NetsukeAntique Japanese Carved Boxwood Netsuke Of Mallet, Signed Shouichi Meiji, SuperbAntique Japanese Carved Very Rare Zitan Netsuke Of A Snail, Museum Quality RareSuperb Japanese Edo 19th C Antique Makie Lacquered Inro Netsuke Ainu Ojime C351Antique Japanese Carved Fine Netsuke Of A Snail On A Folded Lily Leaf, 19th CentAntique Japanese Carved Fine Netsuke Of Aubergines Or Egg Plants, Meiji, 19thc.Fine Japanese Edo 19th C Antique Makie Lacquered Inro Ojime Netsuke "tiger" C320Antique Japanese Carved Boxwood Netsuke Of A Oni Capturing Shoki. 19thc. Superb.Fine Japanese Meiji Period Netsuke, Erotic, Nude, SignedAntique Japanese Carved Boxwood Netsuke Of A Toad On Bucket Signed Masanao 19thcExceptional Antique Japanese Wood Carving Okimono Netsuke Three Monkeys SignedJapanese Antique 19th Cent Sign Netsuke ShishiJapanese Antique 19th Cent Netsuke Fisherman And Big FishAntique Japanese Carved Netsuke Of A Mouse Stealing An EggAntique Japanese Carved Boxwood Inro With Gods, Netsuke & Ojime, Turtle, Signed.Antique Japanese Carved Boxwood Fine Netsuke Of A Human Skull, Meiji, 19thc.Antique Japanese Netsuke - Man With Beard And Staff -very Good Condition G671: Real Old Japanese Cultural Netsuke Made From Black Coral Umi-matsu. 1 G674: Real Old Japanese Cultural Lacquer Ware Netsuke Of Popular Tsuishu WorkAntique Henry Charles Freeman 1912 Solid Silver Japanese Netsuke / MedallionRare Japanese Antique Karakuri Teppo Netsuke W Kamon Miniature Matchlock C346Netsukes Collection Of 3 Frogs G672: Real Old Japanese Cultural Netsuke Made From Black Coral Umi-matsu. 2Fine Japanese Edo Meiji 19th C Antique Tsuikoku Inro W Netsuke Ojime C235Antique Signed Museum Quality Detailed Japanese Netsuke Children Chicken ManJapanese Antique 19th Cent Netsuke RabbitAntique Japanese Okimono Not Netsuke MeijiVintage Japanese Netsuke Man With AxAntique Signed Museum Quality Japanese Netsuke Gods Fish Rat Turtle DetailedC3466:japanese Wooden Person Sculpture Netsuke Inro,kimono SashFine Japanese Edo 18-19th Century Antique Staghorn Netsuke Ojime "tiger" C341Good Netsuke Style Ornament - Frog, Rooster, Mice Japanese Embroderied Tobacco Pouch Netsuke Vintage 19th Cent.Antique Netsuke-okimono Signed Statue Antique Chinese Carved Netsuke Okimono Etc Superb Elephant Stand & Bowl Circ1890Fine Old Signed Japanese Carved Wood Netsuke Carving Sculpture Scholar Art #1Group Of 7 Vintage Netsuke Japanese Workers SignedNice Vintage Chinese Netsuke / Carved Figurine 4"Antique Fish Netsuke SignedSolid Rosewood Display Shelf For Netsuke, Snuff Bottle, Figurine, MiniatureHumorous Rare Netsuke Man Riding A Large Cat FishAntique Signed Swirling Koi Fish Japanese Netsuke SuperbPretty Wood Stand /shelf For Netsuke / Snuff Bottles Or Curios Very Old Vintage Netsuke Man SmokingPretty Wood Stand /shelf For Netsuke / Snuff Bottles Or CuriosChina's Pretty Wood Stand/shelf For Netsuke/snuff Bottles Or Curios NrPretty Wood Stand /shelf For Netsuke / Snuff Bottles Or Curios Nice Vintage Hand Carved Japanese Netsuke Of Naked Female Woman Girl Penis TopNetsuke Street Seller With BasketsFine Jichi Wood Display Stand Shelf For Netsuke Snuff Bottle Small Statue 043 Pcs Hard Wood Stand Of Netsuke Snuff Bottle Carving DisplayKorea Old Wolf Tooth Inlay Silver Cloisonne Statue Pendant Netsuke DecorationA Superb 20th Century Japanese Wooden Rat Inro Box And Netsuke Signed Seal MarkJapanese/chinese NetsukeVintage Japanese Netsuke FigureChina's Pretty Wood Stand/shelf For Netsuke/snuff Bottles Or Curios NrWonderful Signed Netsuke Seven Lucky Gods Fukurokuju With GourdAntique Japanese Carved Boxwood Ojime Figural Cat Netsuke Signed Artist Bead EyeOld Chinese Tibet Silver Amulet " Rabbit " Bullion Statue Thangka Netsuke..Fine Jichi Wood Display Stand Shelf For Netsuke Snuff Bottle Small Statue 07