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  • Place of origin:

    Japan (made)

  • Date:

    19th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Carved wood

  • Credit Line:

    Salting Bequest

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

The netsuke is a toggle. Japanese men used netsuke to suspend various pouches and containers from their sashes by a silk cord. Netsuke had to be small and not too heavy, yet bulky enough to do the job. They needed to be compact with no sharp protruding edges, yet also strong and hardwearing. Above all, they had to have the means for attaching a cord. Netsuke were made in a variety of forms, the most widely appreciated being the katabori (shape carving), a three-dimensional carving, such as this one in the form of a snail on a lotus-leaf.

The main inspiration for netsuke subjects was the natural world, most commonly animals, birds and plants. Although the netsuke appears simple it was, in fact, very demanding to carve. The skill lies in contrasting the smooth, curved upper surfaces with the intricate, textured design of the lotus leaf. This netsuke's compact and smooth form made it an ideal piece to be worn.

Physical description

This carved wood netsuke is in the form of a snail crawling over a young lotus leaf.

Place of Origin

Japan (made)


19th century (made)


Unknown (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Carved wood


Height: 2.5 cm, Width: 5.7 cm

Descriptive line

Netsuke, wood carved with a snail on a lotus leaf, Japan, 19th century.





Subjects depicted





East Asia Collection

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