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Decorated inro with netsuke

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.

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    Glossary: Traditional Chinese Medicine

    Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a medical tradition originating in China, but now used worldwide. Treatments include herbal medicine, massage and acupuncture, which are combined to create a therapy tailored to the patient.

    Glossary: netsuke

    Small ornamental object carved in wood or ivory. Netsuke were used as toggles (buttons) for Japanese kimonos or pouches in the 1600s.

    Glossary: costume

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    Glossary: inro

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    Glossary: ojime

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