Netsuke showing a man applying moxa, Japanese.
4 0 c m
actual image size: 21cm x 32cm

Netsuke showing a man applying moxa, Japanese.

© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library


Netsuke is a form of miniature sculpture developed in Japan over a period of several hundred years. They were often beautifully decorated with elaborate carving, lacquer work, or inlays, and were attached to the end of a cord and tucked into the sash of the kimono. Moxibustion is a traditional chinese therapy. It involves burning pellets of a herb called moxa (wormwood), or a stick of moxa, above particular points and meridians on the surface of the body, cauterising the skin. As in acupuncture, the points on the body are related to the flow of 'chi' or 'qi', or life force, and the aim is to restore what is considered to be the correct, balanced flow of 'chi' or 'qi' to all parts of the body.

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