netsuke 根付
KEY WORD : art history / crafts
A portable tiered container worn on the person for the purposes of carrying medicines in the form of pellets or powders. Originally this container may have carried the ink and seal of the individual, and some *inroou 印籠 so fitted are still extant. A netsuke and inrou were connected by a double cord with a sliding bead, ojime 緒締 which tightened the cord and held the tiered sections of the inrou together. The netsuke, fastened on one end of the cord, was then slipped under a man's narrow belt, obi 帯, allowing the inrou or other small articles (a tobacco pouch, for instance) to hang freely at his side. Travelers used these small cases to carry pills, medicinal powders, and other personal items. They also became a part of samurai 侍 attire of the Edo period and were worn on formal occasions. Although these personal accessories appear in earlier genre paintings, most of the surviving examples are from the 18 - 19c. The netsuke and inrou of a set frequently share a decorative theme. Netsuke might have developed from suitable found objects, such as a gourd, twig, or nut. To be a good netsuke, an object had to be compact in shape and size, durable, with a smooth surface, and of course, preferably visually pleasing and decorative. Early carvers very likely also carved Buddhist images and noh masks *noumen 能面, but as netsuke gained popularity, professional netsuke carvers emerged, eventually to become teachers forming different schools with distinctive styles.


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