What are Netsuke and Ojime beads?
A netsuke is a form of small sculpture, which developed in Japan over a period of more than
three hundred years. Netsukes served both functional and aesthetic purposes. The kimono,
the traditional form of Japanese dress had no pockets. Women would tuck small personal
items in their sleeves, or hung little silk purses on a silk cord, from their sash (obi). To stop
the silk cord from slipping through the obi, a small toggle was attached, This toggle is called a netsuke.
A sliding bead (ojime) was strung on the cord between the netsuke and the little silk purse
(sagemono) to tighten or loosen the opening of the silk purse. The entire ensemble was then
worn at the waist, and functioned as a sort of removable hip pocket. All three object, the
netsuke, the ojime and the silk purse were often decorated with elaborate carvings. Both the
netsukes and ojimes developed into highly coveted and collectible art forms but it is the
netsuke that has by far most captivated the collector.
Today, contemporary netsuke of the finest quality are still being carved, as highly
respected original works of art. In the early part of the century, dealers encouraged netsuke
carvers to emulate antique netsuke both in style and subject matter. Now, contemporary
netsuke artists are exploring new techniques, new subject matters. This vibrant approach to
netsuke has captured the interest of both old and new collectors throughout the world. Also
netsuke carving is no longer confined to the Japanese. There are talented, enthusiastic
carvers all over the world, excited by the worldwide collector interest. There are carvers now
in Canada, China, Africa, Australia, Belgium and Germany. There is a strong renaissance
in creating and collecting netsukes.
It is an exciting opportunity for us to be able to combine netsukes and ojime beads into our