Dressed to impress: Netsuke and Japanese Men’s Fashion

Date: 4 November 2017 to 22 April 2018

A British Museum Partnership Exhibition

This exhibition explores the intricate accessories worn by Japanese men during the Edo period (1615-1868). Netsuke are a form of Japanese miniature sculpture that were primarily functional, but evolved into an important art form.

The exhibition features a selection of netsuke, chosen from over 2,300 in the British Museum’s collection, with more pieces added from MEAA’s collection to show the range and beauty of these objects and their excellent craftsmanship. Netsuke come in a variety of forms and materials such as wood, ivory and porcelain.  The beauty of these objects is in their individuality, and is reflected in the variety of the netsuke on show; a goldfish, a Chinese boy holding a lion mask and a drum and fox’s mask. Also on display will be a number of inro (a case for holding small objects), a sword, and smoking accessories.

The exhibition places the netsuke and other objects in context with a sword and bespoke male kimono to demonstrate how they were worn as a complete outfit in the 18th century.

This exhibition is generously supported by the Dorset Foundation.

British Museum logo

Related Events:
Talk: Dress to Impress: Adornment in Early Modern Japan

Workshop: Japanese Textile Dyeing

Family Fun: Netsuke Exhibition Family Day

Workshop: Christmas Origami Netsuke 1

Workshop: Christmas Origami Netsuke 2


event image for Dressed to impress: Netsuke and Japanese Men’s Fashion

Chinese boy holding a mask for a lion dance. Mikawachi kilns (Saga prefecture), Japan, 1800s. ©The Trustees of the Bristish Museum

Images from top right:

  1. Goldfish. Masanao I of Ise, Japan, 1815–90.©The Trustees of the Bristish Museum
  2. Drum and fox’s mask netsuke. Japan, 19th century. © MEAA collection BATEA1169.
  3. Lacquer inro with Daruma and geese in style of Ritsuo and ojime and wood netsuke of a wheelwright – signed ‘Hokei’Japan, 18th century. © MEAA collection BATEA1128.
  • Goldfish. Masanao I of Ise, Japan, 1815–90. ©The Trustees of the Bristish Museum
  • Drum and fox's mask netsuke. Japan, 19th century
  • Lacquer inro with Daruma and geese in style of Ritsuo and ojime and wood netsuke of a wheelwright - signed 'Hokei'Japan, 18th century
Add to your Calendar Europe/London [MEAA] Dressed to impress: Netsuke and Japanese Men’s Fashion

A British Museum Partnership Exhibition

This exhibition explores the intricate accessories worn by Japanese men during the Edo period (1615-1868). Netsuke are a form of Japanese miniature sculpture that were primarily functional, but evolved into an important art form.

The exhibition features a selection of netsuke, chosen from over 2,300 in the British Museum’s collection, with more pieces added from MEAA’s collection to show the range and beauty of these objects and their excellent craftsmanship. Netsuke come in a variety of forms and materials such as wood, ivory and porcelain.  The beauty of these objects is in their individuality, and is reflected in the variety of the netsuke on show; a goldfish, a Chinese boy holding a lion mask and a drum and fox’s mask. Also on display will be a number of inro (a case for holding small objects), a sword, and smoking accessories.

The exhibition places the netsuke and other objects in context with a sword and bespoke male kimono to demonstrate how they were worn as a complete outfit in the 18th century.

This exhibition is generously supported by the Dorset Foundation.

British Museum logo

Related Events:
Talk: Dress to Impress: Adornment in Early Modern Japan

Workshop: Japanese Textile Dyeing

Family Fun: Netsuke Exhibition Family Day

Workshop: Christmas Origami Netsuke 1

Workshop: Christmas Origami Netsuke 2

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