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    

A Fine Quality Japanese Carved Boxwood Netsuke. Signed. Edo / Meiji Period.Superb Signed 19thc Japanese Meiji Insect Leaf Gourd Carved Netsuke GroupJapanese Antique 19th Century Meiji Period 1868 - 1912, Fine Quality Netsuke,Japanese Antique 19th Cent Late Edo - Early Meiji Period Signed Oni Rare Netsuke#8670 Japanese Samurai Meiji Antique Kacho Zu Beautiful Inro & Signed Netsuke *1421 Rare Fine Carving Japanese Edo Antique Staghorn Netsuke "monkey"Superb Antique Japanese Netsuke Of A Seated Daruma Meditating. Edo PeriodAntique Japanese Carved Netsuke Foo Fu Dog Lion Figurine Sculpture Meiji 19cUnusual Japanese Carving Of Dogs And Snake With Script Netsuke OkimonoJapanese Antiques Inro Case Inro Edo Netsuke Samurai Tsuba Gunpowder 19c MakieAntique Japanese Carved Netsuke Meiji Period 19th Century Museum Quality Antique Japanese Carved Okimono Netsuke Figure Oni Demon Carving SignedJapanese Antique Meiji Period Okimono Carving Figural Group Geisha Netsuke19c Japanese Hand Carved Okimono/netsuke Of Fire Wood BunchAntique Vintage Old Carved Cow Bone Signed Japanese Horse NetsukeSplendid 19thc Carving Of 2 Cats About To Have Dinner Okimono Dieppe NetsukeTop Quality Carved Miniature Figure Of A Workman Opening A Bottle Netsuke DieppeJapanese Antique 19th Century Meiji Period Fine Quality Signed Foo Dog NetsukeAntique / Vintage Japanese Iron Wood Glass Eyes Cat Koi Carp Obi Toggle NetsukeAntique Japanese Netsuke Walnut Carving No HoleExquisitely Carved And Signed Netsuke Man Carrying Kindling Wood*1375 Rare Fine Carving Japanese Edo Antique Signed Wood Netsuke "flower"Attractive Antique Carving Of A Family Of Birds On A Rock Okimono French NetsukeJapanese Wooden Inro For Netsuke Makie Wood*1384 Rare Japanese Edo Antique Staghorn Ojime Netsuke "squirrel"Halcyon Days Enamels 3 Rabbits Bunny Rabbit Enamel Trinket Box In Box NetsukeAntique Japanese Pottery Netsuke Figure Two Monkeys Man Banko Sumida GawaMeiji Antique Museum Quality Katabori Japanese Skull Netsuke BeadAntique Japanese Netsuke Meiji Period "hawk On The Skull"Antique Japanese Netsuke Masked Children Playiing Superbly Detailed Bone Signed*1164 Japanese Edo Antique Teppo Gun Netsuke Miniature Matchlock Short Barrel*1435 Japanese Antique Signed Netsuke & Inro & Ojime "sennin" With Box*1231 Rare Beautiful Japanese Edo Antique Inro & Signed Netsuke & Ojime Noh MaskNetsuke (man On Turtle)Japanese Antique 19th Century Meiji Period Netsuke 2 Face Kabuki Karakurinetsuke*1437 Rare Japanese Antique Vintage Ojime Netsuke "skull" A Pair (2) Japanese Edo Male Female Mask Carved Wood Netsuke In BoxAntique Japanese Mitate Netsuke Manju Fuchibamboo Node Edo Period, No Reserve*1381 Rare Fine Carving Japanese Edo Antique Black Coral Netsuke "foo Dog Lion"Superb Unique Estate Hand Carved Old "rats On The Fan" Miniatures Netsuke Japanese Antique Meiji Period Manju Netsuke Carp Faces Fishermen Pagoda CarvingVintage Japanese Netsuke, Rare - Dog Licking A Skull - Artist Signed.Japanese Antiques Gunpowder Case Inro Edo Netsuke Samurai Tsuba Asian Chinese Old Jade Collectable Handwork Carved Dragon Statue Pendant Netsuke*1438 Rare Japanese Antique Vintage Wooden Ojime Netsuke "mask"Pretty Wood Stand /shelf For Netsuke / Snuff Bottles Or Curios NrMahogany Hard Wood 2 Tiers High Low Display Stand Netsuke Snuff Bottles FigurineJapanese Netsuke Pendant Man Riding Koi Beautiful Beaded Necklace Yellow Jichi Wood Carved Stand Shelf For Netsuke, Snuff Bottle Small StatueKissako3103 Japanese Antique Clay Doll Netsuke Bell Ryugai Temple Vintage FigureNetsuke Boy In A Tall Hat Standing On One LegSale -- Yj460 - 1" Hand Carved Tagua Nut Netsuke - Lovely Rabbit19 Century Original Carved And Rare Manju 18 Juxtaposed Noh Mask NetsukeNetsuke.set Of 7.Antique Vintage Carved Wood Japanese Katabori Netsuke Fine DetailedA Japanese Bone Or Horn Netsuke Japanese Netsuke Sagemono Reishi Fungus Signed Kokusai. No Reserve Japanese Ittobori Netsuke Moorhen ,hida School. Meiji Period. No ReserveKissako 3102 Japanese Antique Clay Doll Netsuke Bell Hyottoko Vintage FigureWooden Crafted Triple Display Stand For Netsuke Snuff Bottle Figurine Home Decor