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    

Quality Antique Meiji Japanese Netsuke - Man And Boy Cleaning BellA Museum Quality Stag Antler Shibayama Netsuke Style Okimono Of A Elephant.Fine Quality Antique Netsuke Meiji Period Japanese Very Rare Signed Bovine BoneVintage Japanese Carved Netsuke Man With Fish In Bowl - SignedAntique Meiji Japanese Netsuke - Egg Tester SignedKubo And The Two Strings Lot - Moon Beast Jaw Prop, Monkey Netsuke, Dvd, LaikaV Fine Antique 19th C Japanese Meiji Netsuke 19th Century Hirado PorcelainAntique Japanese Wood Carved Netsuke Monkey Signed Koichi Edo Period 19thA Wonderful 19c Carved Netsuke Figurine Of Goddess Quan Yin.Meiji Period Stag Antler Netsuke Of Three Men And A Basket Of FoodMeiji Period Stag Antler Netsuke Of A Man On A Small BoatVery Fine Antique Japanese Netsuke Meiji Period - Signed Demon - Very Rare Antique Boxwod Japanese Netsuke Of A Kabuki Actor. Pre 1850 Edo Era. SuperbFine Antique Japanese Meiji Period Carved Netsuke Mouse Figure SignedVintage Japanese Wood Carved Netsuke Man With Fish & Turtle - SignedA 19th C Japanese Carved Netsuke Figure Of A Seated Monk. KŪkai. An Early 19th Century Japanese Carved Netsuke. Signed.Vintage Japanese Tiny Carved Netsuke Man & Book - SignedJapanese Meiji Carved Netsuke Cats Playing Figural Group SignedA 19th Century Carved Japanese Netsuke Of An Immortal. Signed. Meiji Period Stag Antler Japanese Netsuke Okimono Boy Pointing *sadly Damaged*Japanese Meiji Carved Netsuke Cat Sleeping Figural SignedTonkotsu Inro & Hannya Netsuke 19th C Japanese Edo Meiji Antique Sagemono D206Vintage Japanese White Rabbit Netsuke Signed ? Plastic ? Carved Red Eyes NoresMeiji Period Stag Antler Okimono Netsuke Boy Washing Floor Signed Hogyoku Vintage Japanese Carved Netsuke Man With Pot & Wood - Signed Vintage Netsuke .Bone/horn Detailed Carved Japanese Netsuke Man W/rat On BackAntique Japanese Carved Signed Wood Netsuke & Lacquer Inro Ojime Lac BurgauteA 19th Century Carved Japanese Netsuke Of Immortal FukurokujuAntique Japanese Makie Lacquer Inro Pill Box W/ Netsuke FaceA Fine Stag Antler Japanese Netsuke Of A Sarumawashi.edo PeriodA Fantastic Early 19th C Carved Japanese Netsuke Of A Kneeling Boy. Signed.Vintage Netsuke Jade? Carving Of An AnimalAntique Old Chinese Celadon Nephrite Jade Pendant Netsuke Powerful DragonsAntique Old Chinese Celadon Nephrite Jade Pendant Netsuke W/ Silver Bells & KnotA 19th Century Japanese Carved Netsuke Of A Figure With A Parasol.Antique Old Chinese Celadon Nephrite Jade Pendant Netsuke Open WorkEdo Period Stag Antler Okimono Netsuke Chinese Street Vendor Rare Subject Taisho-showa Japanese Antique Dragon Netsuke With Matsuyama SignatureBone/horn Detailed Carved Japanese Netsuke Man W/fish & BasketCert'd Rare Natural Type A Jadeite Jade Ruyi Pixiu Beast Big Netsuke Vintage Hand Carved Japanese Noh Mask Netsuke Prayer Worry Beads No ReserveAntique Old Chinese Nephrite Spinach Green Jade Pendant Netsuke Toggle SkullAn Unusual Antique 3 Wise Monkeys Bone Carving Netsuke Lucky China Old Miao Silver Handmade Inlay Tooth Collect Statue Pendant NetsukeJapanese Antique Wooden Carved Netsuke Figure Of Old Man Standing 2 X Vintage Netsuke .Vintage Japanese Wood Carved Netsuke Dog With Basket - SignedPretty Wood Stand /shelf For Netsuke / Snuff Bottles Or CuriosAntique 14kt Chinese Bovine Cow Bone Hand Carved Chinese Netsuke Bead Necklace Antique Jewelry Lot Silver 9ct Gold Costume Victorian Acorn Chatelaine NetsukePretty Wood Stand /shelf For Netsuke / Snuff Bottles Or Curios Old Chinese Tibet Silver Amulet " Dragon " Bullion Statue Thangka Netsuke..Stand Display China Wood Pedestal For Small Snuff Bottle Netsuke Figure Vase PotChinese Netsuke Boxwood Wood Cute Rat Mice Figurine Carving Cert'd Fine Natural Type A Lavender Jadeite Jade Big Dragon Carving Netsuke Nr Junk Drawer Lot. Bakelite, Knives, Cards, Netsuke, Dice, Toys, Keychains, MoreAntique Japanese Wooden Carved Netsuke Monkey Figure Antique Netsuke Boy On Elephant Signed