Netsuke in the form of Gama Sennin, Japanese, 18th or 19th century.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
A 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. This wooden netsuke is of Gama-Sennin, a Japanese sage who was always accompanied by a toad and posesed the secret of immortality. He is shown bearded, wearing a leaf skirt, and carrying his toad on his left shoulder.