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Netsuke are miniature sculptures that were invented in 17th-century Japan to serve a practical function (the two Japanese characters ne + tsuke mean “root” and “to attach”). Traditional Japanese garments had no pockets; however men who wore them needed a place to store their personal belongings. Their solution was to place such objects in containers hung by cords from the robes’ sash. The most popular were beautifully crafted boxes, secured to the robe with a carved, button-like toggle called a netsuke.