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    

Good Pair Of Qing Dynasty Cow Bone Carvings On Original Wooden Stands NetsukeJapanese Antique 19th Century Meiji Period Geisha Girl With Four Oni's NetsukeJapanese Antique 19th Century Early Meiji Period Fine Quality Signed NetsukeAntique Japanese Netsuke Of Man And Boy. Signed By The Carver. 18c Meiji EraOld Japanese Netsuke Of A Mouse, 19th Meiji EraAntique Japanese Netsuke 19thc Meiji Netsuke - SignedEarly 19thc Edo Netsuke / Okimono Of Temple DogAntique Japanese Netsuke Of An Archer.19c. Meiji Era. Signed By The Carver. #8493 Japanese Samurai Edo Antique Shichi Kenjin Zu Beautiful Makie Inro,netsukeRare Early Royal Worcester Netsuke Animal Figure Red Rabbit C1932*1102 Rare Fine Carving Japanese Antique Edo Netsuke "house In The Woods" Statue#8468 Japanese Samurai Meiji Antique Tsuishu 4 Case Inro, Netsuke Antique Japanese Netsuke *1101 Rare Japanese Antique Edo Wood Netsuke "mushrooms & Chestnut" StatueAntique-japanese-meiji-hand Carved Netsuke Style Figure Of Man-signed-c1880's*1096 Rare Fine Carving Japanese Antique Edo Netsuke "man Who Dances" StatueAntique Japanese Stag Antler Sashi Netsuke. Meiji Period. Unsigned. No DamageFour Antique Japanese Carved Netsuke From An Estate*1138 Rare Japanese Edo Antique Staghorn Netsuke "sleeping" StatueAntique Chinese / Japanese Bronze Ojime Bead / Netsuke - Hannya Mask ?*1098 Rare Japanese Antique Edo Wood Netsuke "budai Hotei Buddha" StatueAntique Japanese Netsuke Hand Carved Cow BoneAntique Japanese Signed Cow Bone Netsuke Antique Netsuke Mother Combing Hair While NursingVintage Japanese Netsuke Carved Wood Dragon SignedSigned NetsukeUnique Chinese Old 0x Horn Collectable Hand Carved Buddha Monk Statue NetsukeVintage Japanese Netsuke Carved Wood Fish SignedAntique Netsuke Old Woman And ChildAntique Chinese Cow Bone Toggle Netsuke. Qing Period 象牙古董Signed Harmony Kingdom Netsuke "lucky Streak" Dragon Carved Figurine - Mint18th/19thc Netsuke With SignatureMartin Perry - Qts - Small Fish Figurine / Ornament - Inspired By Netsuke - BnibSkull Netsuke Bone British Yellow OpaqueSuper Chinese Old Cloisonne Collectable Carved Horse Statue Netsuke Ornament Vintage Japanese Netsuke Carved Wood Monkey Riding Carp SignedChina Rare Collectibles Old Decorated Handwork Boxwood Carving Owl NetsukeAuc1 Superb Hand Carved Netsuke Pair Wise Man & Fisherman Figures Box WoodAuc3 Superb Hand Carved Netsuke Pair Man With Rat And Warrior Wise Man Box Wood19thcentury Edo Period Bovine Bone Seated Monkey Holding Persimmon Fruit NetsukeHand Carved Netsuke Sculpture Miniature Zodiac Goat Sheep Antelope Bag*1133 Rare Japanese Edo Antique Staghorn Netsuke "budai Hotei Buddha" StatueAuc2 Superb Hand Carved Netsuke Pair Mythical 3 Headed Wolf & Turtle Box Wood*1095 Rare Fine Carving Japanese Antique Edo Wood Netsuke "foo Dogs" StatueAntique Japan Superbly Bone Carved Netsuke Monkey - No Speak MonkeyJapanese Bird Netsuke Red Mark To Base Vintage Japanese Netsuke Carved Wood Cricket SignedVintage Japanese Netsuke Carved Wood Frog Riding Mother & Baby Turtle SignedOld Chinese Nephrite Celadon Jade Carved Statue/netsuke/toggle Cattle 18/19thc3 Antique Japanese Red Lacquer Netsukes Lion Elephant Rhino Japan Early 20thcA Japanese Leather Pouch With NetsukeNetsuke Skull Mask Miniature Figurine Hand Carved Tagua Nut AntiqueA Fine Japanese Ojime Bead Carving Elephant Design Antique - Netsuke ChinesePretty Wood Stand /shelf For Netsuke / Snuff Bottles Or CuriosVintage Japanese Netsuke Carved Wood Entwined CarpVintage Japanese Netsuke Carved Wood Turtle Riding Fish SignedAntique Japanese Meiji Signed Horse NetsukeMartin Perry - Qts - Small Owl Figurine / Ornament - Inspired By Netsuke - BnibVintage Chinese Old 0x Horn Collectable Hand Carved Horse Statue Netsuke Pendant