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 Stunning And Rare Japanese Netsuke Of Ono No Komachi.19th C. Signed By Bishu.A Master Piece Netsuke Of Three Wise Monkeys. Edo Period. Signed-okatomo.19th Century Japanese Meiji Period NetsukeFine Japanese Antique Taisho - Early Showa Wood Netsuke For Inro "mouse" B636Japanese Antique Netsuke Fox Deer Horn Samurai Inro Sagemono19th Century Japanese Meiji Period Netsuke19th Century Japanese Meiji Period Netsuke Antique Early Chinese NetsukeB2010:japanese Bone Person Sculpture Netsuke Inro, Hang Items From A Kimono SashAntique Japanese Netsuke Possible Fruit Pear ? Not Sure Estate Sale FindFine Japanese Edo 18-19th C Antique Staghorn Netsuke For Inro "sennin" B607Fine 19th Century Carved Japanese Netsuke - Shibayama - Red Seal Signature - DogMeiji Bone Bovine Netsuke Fisherman With Basket & Catch Signed Fine Detail RareAntique Japanese Netsuke Mitsuhiro Signed "oguri Hangan Riding Horse" Stag Hone Wonderful Japanese Hand Carved Netsuke Figure Nice Detail Signed ~no ReserveMeiji Bone Bovine Netsuke Two Geese On Basket Rare Subject Glass Eyes AmazingAntique Japanese 9 Set Of Netsuke ”horse,samurai,traveler,skull,etc”edo EraAntique Japanese Netsuke Of Two Men Holding Unusual Items? Edo Era, Stag AntlerErotic Netsuke Or Okimono Bone Bovine *hidden Secret* Circa 1910 Signed RareAntique Japanese Netsuke A Rat On Top Of A Shell? Not Sure Estate Sale FindAntique Genuine Japanese Netsuke Dated 1850 1899Japanese Meiji Taisho Antique Coral Kanzashi 2 Pieces B553 / Sagemono NetsukeJapanese Antique Quality Carved Signed NetsukeErotic Okimono Or Netsuke Bone Bovine 1 Piece Circa 1912 Signed *hidden Secret*Japanese Wood Carved Netsuke Pig With PumpkinAntique Old Chinese Jadeite Emerald Jade Pendant Netsuke ~ Crane & LotusAntique Japanese Signed Netsuke Children Playing With The Elders~ No Reserve A440: Fine Japanese Netsuke Of High Quality Material Of Drum With Men Image Cert'd Fine Rare Natural Type A Emerald Jadeite Jade Big Dragon Ruyi Netsuke Nr Japanese Antique Quality Carved Signed NetsukeAntique Japanese Carved Netsuke Erotica PieceAntique Japanese Netsuke "chinese Hermit"made Of PorcelainJapanese Antique Quality Carved Signed Netsuke2-2 Antique Japanese Carved Netsuke - Tokaido 53 StationsJapanese Antique Quality Carved Signed NetsukeAntique Japanese Carved And Hand Painted Geisha Netsuke, Signed NrAntique Japanese Netsuke "dragon In The Drum With The Tokugawa Family Crest"Antique Japanese Signed Intricately Carved Netsuke Man Carrying Cart With Man Antique 19th Century Carved Cow Bone Figural Chinese Japanese Netsuke/toggleThree Old Netsuke ? Ornaments Japanese Japan ModelsFirst Quality Master Carved Signed Japanese Netsuke Sumo Wrestler Tengu Noh MaskJapanese Netsuke Style Sculpture - Man ExcellentMuseum Quality Master Carved Signed Japanese Netsuke Buddha & Tengu Noh Mask18th - 19th Japanese Asian Chinese Netsuke Figure Horse - Signed-beautiful Antique Japanese Boxwood Netsuke "mushroom" Jyuko Signed Edo EraJapanese Netsuke Markings Ebay Auction Rare Working Man Wheel Spoon Clothes BowlAntique Small Hand Carved Netsuke Elderly Man A432: Real Old Japanese Cultural Wooden Netsuke Of Buffalo Statue With Good WorkAntique Japanese Meiji Cypress Wood Netsuke, A Mask Of Noh DramaOld Japanese Netsuke Skeleton Carving Inscribed On Bottom Antique Japanese Carved Netsuke Of Cat Animal Signed Antique Japanese Carved Netsuke Of Man Animal With Mask On Back SignedLifelike Chinese Old Cloisonne Hand Carved Hummingbird Statue Netsuke Ornament Japanese Netsuke Style Sculpture - Pelican Bird Signed A368: Japanese Lacquer Ware Samurai Pillbox Inro With Makie, Netsuke W/box. 3Antique Japanese Netsuke Buddah Lays Flat Signed Painted Estate Sale FindAntique Carved Japanese Netsuke Ojime Monkey In Claw Signed Antique Japanese Carved Netsuke Of Man Sitting On Log W/ Pipe W/ Monkey On Back1940'vintage Carved Dark Brown Japanese Netsuke Boxwood Carving 1000 Faces BallLot 7 Antique Japanese Carved Netsuke Mechanical Buddha Cat Erotica Rat Signed