Ojime . ca. 1920. Ivory.
2 cm. ( 0.75")
Japanese netsuke are little carvings, mostly made out of ivory or wood, as handling pieces, or toggles.

A netsuke will always have a couple of linked holes, or a deliberate gap often between a tail or leg, for a cord to be attached so that they could be used as a toggle. They were then most often attached to an inro.

An inro is a decorated lacquer container, consisting of a number of interlocking compartments, usually there are between 2 to 6 compartments, all held together on a cord.

An ojime, this is a decorative bead, is then threaded onto the cord so that once pushed down towards the inro, it keeps all the compartments closed. Ojime can be carved metal, ivory or stone beads. These inro were then used for carrying such small personal items as seals and pills and became fashionable with the Kimono.

The kimono had no pockets so the inro, held closed by the ojime, would be worn hanging from the sash; the netsuke was then, pushed up under the sash, thus trapping and holding the inro in place. (Edited text from John Neville Cohen website )

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