Japanese men used to hang personal items such as money pouches and tobacco from their kimono sash by means of a silk cord. A small toggle – ‘netsuke’ – attached to the top of the cord prevented it from slipping through the sash. These toggles began life with a practical purpose, but craftsmen soon developed them into miniature masterpieces and highly fashionable items.
Netsuke were intricately carved ornaments from ivory, wood, coral, semi-precious stones or other materials, and depicted a vast range of subjects. Although original pieces from the 18th-19th centuries are now much sought after by collectors and command high prices, inexpensive modern reproductions are also available. We hope you enjoy our selection of netsuke below.