Antiques & Collectibles

(844) 828-7855
P.O. Box 12048, Tempe, AZ 85284


Shop by Category

Mother of Pearl on Black Lacquer Inro with Netsuke and Wooden Ojime. Circa 1900

SKU: Mother of Pearl Inro $149.95
An inrA (A is a traditional Japanese case for holding small objects. Because traditional Japanese garb lacked pockets, objects were often carried by hanging them from the obi, or sash. Most types of these sagemono were created for specialized contents, such as tobacco, pipes, writing brush and ink, but inrA were suited for carrying anything small. Consisting of a stack of tiny, nested boxes, inrA were most commonly used to carry identity seals and medicines. The stack of boxes are held together by a cord that runs through cord runners down one side, under the bottom, and up the opposite side. The ends of the cord are secured to a netsuke, a kind of toggle that is passed between the sash and pants and then hooked over the top of the sash to suspend the inrA. An ojime is provided on the cord between the inrA and netsuke to hold the boxes together. This is a bead with a hole through the center through which the cord is passed. It is slid down to the top of the inrA to hold the stack together while the inrA is worn, and slid up next to the netsuke when the boxes need to be unstacked to access their contents. InrA were made of a variety of materials, including wood, ivory, bone, and lacquer. Lacquer was also used to decorate inro made of other materials. InrA, like the ojime and netsuke they were associated with, evolved over time from strictly utilitarian articles into objects of high art and immense craftsmanship.