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Netsuke in form of seated skeletons

Skeletons often appear in netsuke. They are sometimes in quite comic poses. This tiny wooden netsuke is in the form of two seated skeletons. The one behind has his hands on the other’s shoulders. The meaning of the imagery is uncertain. The netsuke was made in Japan. Netsuke are toggle-like ornaments. They hang objects such as medicine boxes or tobacco pouches from the sash of a kimono – a traditional form of Japanese dress. Netsuke carving is a form of miniature sculpture which developed in Japan over several hundred years. They were often beautifully decorated with elaborate carving, lacquer work, or inlays and were usually made from wood, ivory or porcelain.

Object number:

A641192

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Glossary: Medical traditions

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Glossary: skeleton

The bones or bony framework of an animal body considered as a whole; also, more generally, the harder (supporting or covering) constituent part of an animal organism.

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.