Japanese Netsuke - Buddhist Jewel of Wisdom Carved with Mountain Pavilions by Kaigyokusai (Masatsugu) (Japan, Osaka, 1813-09-13 - 1892-01-21) / Mid to late 19th century , Ivory with staining, sumi, inlays
Netsuke are miniature sculptures invented in 17th-century Japan to serve a practical function. Traditional Japanese garments 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’ sashes (obi). The containers may have been pouches or small woven baskets. 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.