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Netsuke

Diagram showing position of netsuke

Collecting Netsuke Figures


NETSUKE
As the national costume of Japan, the Kimono didnít have pockets; objects such as an inro, purse, drinking gourd or tobacco pouch which were usually hung from a cord at the waist. The cord was attached to a netsuke , (pronounced netski) which simply fastened the kimono and was held in place by pressure.
Originally netsuke were simple wooden toggles but they became more elaborate and carving reached a sustained peak in the 18th Century. They were usually made from wood or ivory but can be found of Bone, Rhino, Buffalo and Stag horn, Coral, Jet, Turtle Shell, Amber or even Metal.

The subjects carved are more numerous than the carvers, of whom over 3000 have been identified, but two of the main groups are those depicting characters from Japanese folk history ( Mukashi, Banashi and Sugata)- depictions of various craftsmen.

japanese netsuke

Eroticism was also a popular subject and examplesquite often took the form of young women indulging or being indulged by, sea monsters and mythological characters.

japanese netsuke

Most netsukecame from areas of high population, such as Osaka, Nagoya, Kyoto, and Edo where carvers could make a good living.
Their popularity declined around 1868 when western style dress with pockets became popular. The influx of tourists however, were eager for souvenirs of old Japan creating a large market for netsuke. Vast numbers of a rather inferior quality, compared to earlier ones, were exported to Europe and America.
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