Oriental Gift for the National Museum in Szczecin

A large collection of Asian objects made of animal bones was given to the Department of Non-European Cultures of the National Mueum in Szczecin on October 8th 2022. Netsuke, okimono and inrō stand out among over 280 intricately made sculptures.


Nestuke (Japanese: rooting) is a small item, most often carved, with practical use in traditional Japanese men's attire. Its main task is to hold small items behind the kimono's belt (including inrō - a small box for storing seals and vermilion paste for imprinting them on letters, and later also for carrying medicines). Netsuke have been used since the 15th century. Initially, their form was very simple, but in the Edo period (1600–1868) they became a kind of applied art, practiced by professional netsuke-shi artists. They were made of various materials, including lacquer, wood, ivory, ceramics, stone, precious metals. At the end of the 19th century, when European clothes began to replace traditional kimonos, netsuke lost their utility function and became artistic items purchased for decorative purposes. To this day, these small, intricately carved figurines are sought by collectors.

Netsuke are an extremely valuable source of information about the times in which they were formed, about Japanese society, its rules, legends and myths. Okimono figurines, much larger than netsuke, have similar aesthetic and cognitive values. They are made of ivory or bronze and are used for interior decoration.

The collection is a gift from Dr. Marek Seyda, who was born in Łódź, but spent his childhood and youth in Szczecin. In our city, he attended kindergarten, primary and secondary school. He graduated in fisheries from the Agricultural Academy and dentistry at the Medical Academy (today West Pomeranian University of Technology and Pomeranian Medical University, respectively). He has been living in Cologne for over fourty years. The first ivory figurine was bought by his wife, Danuta, in the now inexistent "Orient" shop, located at Aleja Wyzwolenia in Szczecin. He obtained others from various sources.

By Ewa Prądzyńska, the Manager of the NMS Department of Non-European Cultures


netsuke 2


netsuke 4


netsuke 4


netsuke 6