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Reference: 2021-997

Ivory netsuke representing a bag.

Netsuke constitute the major part of Japanese ivory of great quality. Since the Japanese costume (kimono) had no pockets, the objects were passed under the belt and the netsuke, held by a cord, was used to hold them.

At the end of the Edo period, Japan started to adopt western ideas. Japan entered a phase of commodification. The movement of people and goods was facilitated by improved land and sea transportation. Education spread among warriors, who were required to cultivate letters as much as weapons, but also among merchants. This netsuke can thus represent a sea or land transport bag from this period.

Japan – Late Edo period (1853-1868), 19th century

Height: 1.8 in. (4.5 cm) – Length: 1.4 in. (3.5 cm) – Width: 1.2 in. (3 cm)