Traditional Japanese garments (kimono and kosode robes) had no pockets, so personal belongings were kept in a small container called an inro. This was suspended from the obi (the sash worn around the waist) and kept fastened to it by a miniature sculpture called a netsuke. Most often carved from ivory or wood, netsuke came into use in the early 17th century, and later on were made for ornamental purposes.

See a Flickr set of elaborate and sometimes symbolic netsuke from the Victoria & Albert Museum. Link -Thanks, Mo!

(image credit: mcost)

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I love netsukes as art pieces, and own a couple of old ivory ones. These are often whimsical, always beautiful, and are like holding little pieces of history in your palm.. Love them! Thanks for the link.
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