Netsuke: miniature masterpieces from Japan

Lucky Animals

Craftsmen carved many netsuke in the form of animals, many of which were linked with good fortune.

Some creatures were admired for their natural qualities, for example the strength of oxen, or for appearing at times of good harvests such as rats.

In Japan’s Shintō belief system animals such as deer and monkeys were thought to be messengers of the gods.  Other animals were linked to the Buddhist religion.