Three different wooden cat statues

History of collecting.

It wasn’t until humans gave up their nomadic lifestyle over 12,000 years ago, that collecting became possible. In the 19th century, aristocratic collectors were the most common, as their collections were perceived as a status symbol. The aristocracy kept items in what was called the “cabinet of curiosities” a special curio or room designated for displaying and storing collectibles. Many of these cabinets contributed to the establishment of the first museums in Europe.

What is Netsuke? 

This presentation will introduce a very rare and interesting collectible item. Netsuke collecting is popular all throughout the world. Pronounced as “net-ski”.

They are a form of small sculpture, which developed in Japan over a period of more than 300 yrs, called the Edo period. They served both functional and aesthetic purposes. Originally worn as a part of a male kimono ensemble by men of the warrior class. The Netsuke often was made out of expensive, rare materials. Designed not only for their functional ability to carry things, but they were also a marker of wealth. The traditional Japanese kimono 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 (0bi). To stop the silk cord from slipping through the obi, a small toggle was attached. This Toggle “bead” is the NETSUKE. During the late 19th century Netsuke transitioned from functional and fashionable accessories to Objects D’ Art favored by Westerners for their exquisite carving and small size. Most Netsuke became the perfect souvenir of sojourns to what was then an “exotic East”.

4 things to know about Netsuke:

  1. Necessity was the reason for its invention
  2. It is a distinctly Japanese/Asian art form
  3. Motifs mirrored broader trends of life
  4. Netsuke were always collector’s items

True connoisseurship demands expertise and obsession and expert collectors have made good Netsuke highly covetable.

Netsuke in Jewelry art 

I always liked and appreciated unusual pieces of art. When I saw Netsukes first, I knew that I would somehow incorporate them into my designs. It is not a look for everyone’s taste, but certainly calls old and new collectors’ attention throughout the world. My design interpretation is definitely western, however, I am glad we can enjoy the beauty of these Asian art pieces.

It is an exciting opportunity for me to be able to combine these carved art pieces into my designs.