Inrō with four boxes in black and gold lacquer, representing characters and a pavilion in a snowy landscape. Netsuke in carved boxwood representing a crouching child with a laughing face holding a turtle. The details of the hair, the folds of the garment and the shell of the turtle are delicately carved. Signed on an ivory inlay.

In Japan, the turtle (kame) is considered a symbol of wisdom, stability and luck. Tradition has it that it provides protection and 10,000 years of happiness because of its longevity and the slowness of its movements. In Taoist belief, the turtle symbolizes the world: its shell represents the sky, while its body represents the earth.

Small boxes formed of compartments that fit one on top of the other, inrō (印籠) are traditional Japanese clothing items. Since the kimono had no pockets, everyday objects were carried in small boxes (sagemono) hung on the belt (obi). To prevent them from slipping, a netsuke, a small wooden or ivory figurine, was used to hold the cord of the inrō or other types of sagemono. The Inrō are often decorated with harmonious scenery and scenes inspired by the flora and fauna. Japanese artists play with materials and shapes with precision and thoroughness comparable to goldsmithing.


Japan –  Edo Period (1603 – 1868)

Height : 2.85 inch