What are japanese netsuke made of antique netsukes are made of animal materials like bones and teeth mainly from cattle and coral even animal ivory was taken from the tusks of elephants walruses and mammoths to be used in the creation of these small purse like accessories. Still as japanese fashion became more influenced by the west netsuke disappeared from everyday use westerners took up the collectors mantle in the meiji period right after japan opened to the west in 1854 americans and europeans discovered netsuke and immediately started collecting them goodall says. Japanese netsuke originally used as practical objects japanese netsuke has become an outlet for sculptors to express their creativity and a popular collectible worldwide first discovered in 17th century japan netsuke serve as a solution to the lack of pockets in the japanese kimono
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