Decorated inro with netsuke

Made:
1850-1918 in Japan
maker:
Unidentified

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Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Science Museum Group
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Science Museum Group
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Science Museum Group
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Science Museum Group
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Bronze inro, elaborately decorated with scenes in inlaid gold and silver, with square netsuke, signed by a maker, Japanese, before 1919

A macabre graveside scene is depicted on this beautiful box. Skeletons creep, recline and leap among gold gravestones. One brandishes a frog above his head while other amphibians appear around his feet. The box is made of bronze with a gold and silver inlay. It is a small decorative container called an inro. Inro carried items such as medicine boxes or tobacco from the sash of a kimono. A kimono is a traditional Japanese dress. Inro were worn with carved toggles called netsuke. They were objects of status.

The box pulls apart to form three separate receptacles and a lid. A cord runs through two side tubes. Attached to the cord is a small carved bead called an ojime. Ojime were often intricately carved. They were made with precious materials. This example has two tiny interlaced frogs. A frog was reputedly a Chinese symbol of luck and good fortune.

Details

Category:
Asian Medicine
Collection:
Sir Henry Wellcome's Museum Collection
Object Number:
A641080
Materials:
bronze (copper, tin alloy), complete, gold (metal) and silver (metal)
Measurements:
overall netsuke: 10 mm x 30 mm x 30 mm,
inro: 16 mm x 78 mm x 52 mm,
type:
ojime
taxonomy:
  • bead - pierced object
  • visual and verbal communication
  • sculpture
  • furnishing and equipment
  • container - receptacle
  • sagemono