Worn by Japanese men as sash toggles, netsuke were attracting the attenrion of Europeans by the late 19th century. Today these delightful art objects are coveted by collectors throughout the world. Netsuke motifs can be mythical beings and creatures, vernacular deities, zodiac animals, seemed exotic tot he Jpanese of the Edo and Meiji eras, as well as Dutchmen and other Europeans.
Consummate mastery of the carver's craft in a variety of materials, among them boxwood, ivory, horn, hornbill, coral, tortoiseshell and lacquer, distinguishes these miniature works of art. The masterpieces created by famous carvers like Yoshimura Shuzan (1700-1773) and Ohara Mitsuhiro (1810-1878) shaped aesthetic developments in this art medium.