traditional kimonos have no pockets,
Japanese men and women would
wear a compartmentalized box called an
below the obi,
a wide fabric kimono belt, on a double cord.
At the top of the cord, a large carved bead called netsuke
acted as a toggle to anchor the inro
with the cord passing under the obi.
(pronounced oh-jay-meh, and used for both singular and plural)
served as a sliding closure to secure the lid of the inro.
Since the netsuke sits atop the obi,
appears to be upside-down when strung as a necklace pendant,
unless the designer strings through an open area rather than
hole or uses wirework to correct its orientation.
These hand carved boxwood beads reveal exquisite detail,
Some skeptics suspect they are cast
replicas, as the material and carvings
seem too flawless
But it is the exceptionally tight grain
of boxwood that allows for such intricate carving,
the skill of master wood carvers who can create such lifelike and
carvings are produced in the Heibei Province of China.
ivory was banned in the mid-1980's, boxwood was recently
Although different in color, it has a density
and fine grain suitable for ivory-like detail.
carver first creates 5-10 ojime designs.
Fellow artists use these master beads as a reference for their own
Contemporary Chinese Master-Carvers take up to four hours to make
and are individually signed by the artists who carved
The completed beads are hand polished and waxed one
more time to insure brightness and durability.
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