THE BEST OF JAPAN | MY NETSUKE
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Netsuke are miniature sculptures that were invented in 17th century Japan to serve a practical function (the two Japanese characters ne + tsuke mean ‘root’ and ‘to attach’). Traditional Japanese garments — robes called kosode and kimono — had no pockets; however men who wore them needed a place to store their personal belongings such as pipes, tobacco, money, seals, or medicines.
Their solution was to place such objects in containers (called sagemono) hung by cords from the robes’ sash (obi). The containers were pouches, small woven baskets, or beautifully crafted boxes (inro), which were held shut by an ojime: sliding beads on cords. Whatever the form of the container, the fastener that secured the cord at the top of the sash was a carved, button-like toggle called a netsuke.