Superb miniature carvings (katabori), usually less than two inches high, that have been created by Japanese artists for over three hundred years. During that time, they have portrayed almost every aspect of life and culture in Japan. The typical motif for these carvings were: famous and anonymous people, craft, trades and merchant professionals, animals, plants, deities, mythical creatures, and symbolic sexual subjects. These tiny carvings could be made of numerous types of materials including: wood (walnut), bamboo, bone, ivory, tusk, tooth, ceramic, and materials such as coral, agate, and amber. Traditional Japanese garments had no pockets; however, men in particular needed a place to store their personal belongings, such as tobacco, narcotics, money, seals, or medicines. The Netsuke carvings were traditionally used to prevent the cord attached to a gentleman’s inro or tobacco pouch from slipping through the belt in his hakama. Today, they are highly collectible works of art.
Note: An interest in objects of beauty carved long ago from ivory or horn, co-exist, with a desire to protect and preserve the natural world. For information regarding buying ivory or animal horn artifacts see information regarding, the Ins and Outs of Owning Ivory at: www.pbs.org/wgbh/roadshow/fts/chattanooga_200804A10.html. Additionally see information regarding, Reconsidering Rhino Horn: www.pbs.org/wgbh/roadshow/fts/tulsa_201104A36-part2.html.