Anything is possible. And: Sometimes there is an exception to the rule.
Re: Interesting Ojime @ Auction -- Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Frederick II Post Reply
03/06/2017, 17:59:33

When trying to pin down the history of Arts and Crafts, we sometimes see necessity becoming the mother of invention. A craftsman is limited and inspired by his imagination, tradition and access to the medium in which he chooses to work.

When viewing behind the scenes from the collections of the British Museum, NYC's MMA or Chicago's Field Museum and if you search through old auction catalogs for Christie's and Sotheby's for the last century, you will find almost all mix-matched ojime/netsuke/inro ensembles. There are precious few examples of matching sets. Ordinarily, the netsuke was made by a netsuke carver. The inro or tobacco pouch was made by a specialist. And the ojime was often made by either the netsuke or inro maker -with a few exceptions. The materials employed could have been anything a craftsman could think of. Anything from woven basketry to multi metals as those found in fine Japanese swords.

Making assumptions about the past is what historians often do. We rely upon those who have had the most exposure to the materials and research available to offer their opinions. In addition, each of us is free to reach our own conclusions.

*Inro are pocket substitutes for the kimono; kimonos do not have pockets. Therefore, men would carry objects in a purse-like container suspended from their obi with a netsuke or counterweight. The purse (inro) was held shut with an ojime bead. These were initially utilitarian and various materials were used for ojime, netsuke and inro during the Edo and Meiji eras in Japan. Eventually it was the rising merchant class who enjoyed showing off their new wealth and good taste when buying and commissioning fine netsuke, ojime and inro.

Besides being age inappropriate, the usage of a Venetian bead on an inro is garish and feels like a salesman's misguided ploy to add value. This is my opinion based upon forty years of researching, buying and selling ojime as a specialist.

As it is today, basically, a person would wear what he could afford. Often, a seed -or adaptation of a bead from another country- was all a farmer needed to hold his tobacco pouch shut. So be it.

Modified by Frederick II at Tue, Mar 07, 2017, 17:38:38

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