Okimono in shape of an Egyptian

Okimono, Japan, Meiji-Period, late 19th century, Ivory.
Courtesy of Johann Jacobs Museum

The art of Japanese carving is closely linked to the traditional Japanese manner of dress, and in the case of “netsukes” (small decorative objects used as toggles to fasten containers to the sash of a kimono), quite literally so. But as dress norms fundamentally changed in the second half of the 19th century, Japanese carvers sought and found new markets for their artistry.
The ivory figure of a female fellah (Egyptian peasant), somewhat reminiscent of a Christian Madonna, was probably produced for the Arab market.