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 Netsuke, Genuinely Old, Museum Quality Reclining Man With FanJapanese Antique 19th Cent Edo Period Carved Cow Bone Netsuke#7494 Edo Samurai Antique Ume Tsuru Zu Morimakie Beautiful Inro & Signed NetsukeVery Fine Quality Japanese Signed Inro & Finely Carved Netsuke - Very Rare -l@@kJapanese Carved Netsuke Man With Bundle 19th - 20th CenturyAntique-signed Japanese Carved Bone Immortal/old Lady/uba Figure-okimono/netsukeNetsuke Spider In Gourd Japanese Lignum Vitae Wood Meiji 1880s Signed Tetsuya Charming Vintage Japanese Signed Carved Wooden Fish Inro, Netsuke And Ojime Old Japanese Bone Carved Netsuke Crouching Cat B480: Real Old Japanese Netsuke Of High-quality Material With Fantastic TasteEstate Fine Old Signed Japanese Chinese Carved Polychrome Double Okimono NetsukeJapanese Carved Netsuke Mother Holding Bundle With Child 19th - 20th CenturyAntique Lot Of Five Signed Japanese Netsuke Statue #7294 Japanese Samurai Edo Antique Shojyo Zu Kinko NetsukeOld Antique €#909 Antique Asian Carved Foo Dog Miniature Netsuke Statue Ancient ArtifactAntique Japanese Mouse On Cucumber Hand Carved Netsuke Signed KoshoFine Old Chinese Carved Composite Netsuke Rat Carving Sculpture Signed MasanaoVintage Signed Japanese Carved Cat Netsuke Black Bead NecklaceRare Japanese Antique Bone Netsuke "ascetic Monk" -7385 Vintage Carved Wood Chinese Japanese Vase Netsuke Stands 1 Double -estate FindAn Antique Japanese Ojime / Netsuke Bead Made From Bovine / Cow Bone.Antique Japanese Cow Bone Netsuke/okimono Of A Baby MonkeyEstate Fine Old Signed Japanese Chinese Carved Netsuke Okimono Monkey CarvingB479: Real Old Japanese Signed Netsuke Of High-quality Material With Fine WorkJapanese Carved Netsuke Crab On Shell Signed 19th - 20th CenturyAntique Lot Of Japanese Chinese Asian Netsuke Buddha Elephant Statue Lapis Lazuli & Asian Chinese/japanese Carved Netsuke Animal Bead Zodiac Necklace#7517 Japanese Samurai Edo Antique Yanagi Ni Kigan Zu Makie Nice Inro & NetsukeRare Japanese Genuine Antique Netsuke & Gunpowder Case "okina Noh Mask" -733Beautiful Antique Japanese Hand Carved Netsuke Fish , Signed RarePretty Wood Stand /shelf For Netsuke / Snuff Bottles Or CuriosJapanese Handicraft Boxwood Wood Netsuke Octopus FigurinePretty Wood Stand /shelf For Netsuke / Snuff Bottles Or CuriosAntique Octopus Netsuke Beautiful Details Carved Oriental B232: Real Old Japanese Cultural Tasty Netsuke Of Buddha's Hand Citron StatueCollectable Hongshan Jade Netsuke Of Two-head Animal Carving X1490B478: Real Old Japanese Cultural Netsuke Of Some Shellfish Image For Inro EtcJapanese Antique Netsuke Inro(印籠) / Bamboo / Bone B476: Real Old Japanese Cultural Wooden Netsuke With Good Taste For Inro EtcFine Old Signed Japanese Chinese Carved Polychrome Netsuke Okimono CarvingJapanese Handwork Bone Netsuke Carving BeautySet Of 4 Netsuke Buttons, Matching, With Braided TiesNetsuke CoupleEstate Fine Old Signed Japanese Chinese Carved Netsuke Okimono Toad Carving ArtEstate Fine Old Signed Japanese Chinese Carved Netsuke Okimono Frog Carving ArtHarmony Kingdom Dragon Georgie Netsuke Collection & BoxPretty Wood Stand /shelf For Netsuke / Snuff Bottles Or CuriosPretty Wood Stand /shelf For Netsuke / Snuff Bottles Or CuriosJapanese Handwork Bone Netsuke Carving WomanAntique Japanese Bovine Bone Ojime / Netsuke Bead: 'moon Staring Hare' - Rabbit.Japanese Handwork Boxwood Netsuke Carving OwlJapanese Handwork Boxwood Netsuke Carving MiceChinese Carved Netsuke Snuff Bottle Frog Snail Turtle In Lotus - Amazing DetailEstate Old Signed Japanese Chinese Carved Swivel Face Netsuke Okimono CarvingAntique Netsuke Of Hotei Laughing Buddha Signed By Master Carver.Old Japanese Carved Netsuke - Signed - Monkey With Large FishLovely Boxwood Netsuke: Sitting HorseMartin Perry - Qts - Small Swans / Birds Figurine - Inspired By Netsuke - BnibSale :y1464us - 1.8" Nice Quality Hand Carved Boxwood Netsuke - Dragon 2 Sides