For more than three hundred years, Japanese developed a small sculpted object for both functional as well as aesthetic purpose.
Actually, the Japanese dress, Kimono, had no pockets. So they have hanging bags called sagemono. Sagemono were used to hold small personal items like tobacco pouches, pipes and other items of daily use. To prevent these sagemono from falling, a netsuke was added at the end.
Originally, Japanese Netsuke were used as toggles to secure pouches to kimono sashes .
Netsuke are made to depict regular found objects ,plants and animals , legends and legendary heroes ,myths and mystical creatures ,beasts ,gods and religious symbols and other of daily memories.
Till the 16th century, Netsuke were plain, normal in design and shape, usually carved in round or square or uneven forms with little or no details.
By the 19th Century, People started collecting them, making the Netsuke carvers to make it more than just a clothing accessory, more like an art form creating symbolic pieces .
In Japan , most of the netsukes are made of ivory , boxwood or other hardwoods , or metal .Earlier they were made of hippopotamus tooth. Now a days , they are coming in clay and porcelain , cane.
Types of Japanese Netsuke
(1)Katabori Netsuke : They are simply Sculpture Netsuke , three dimensional figures , oftenly carved in round shaped with a height of one to three inches.
(2)Anabori Netsuke : These are hollowed Netsuke .They are similar to Katabori but are hollowed with a centre cavity.
Such Netsuke usually has motifs of clams all over the netsuke.
(3)Sashi Netsuke :Elongated version of Katabori , like a stab and is similar in length to the sticks around six inches long and gourds used an improvised netsuke before carved pieces were introduced.
(4)Manju Netsuke : They look like Japanese “Manju “confection. These are a thick , flat , and round in shape , sometimes made with two ivory halves.