One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
An ornamental box with compartments for items such as seals and medicines, worn suspended from a waist sash as part of traditional Japanese dress.
- ‘These ornaments were originally made to provide a way to secure tobacco cases, purses, or inro (medicine containers), which fashionable Japanese men suspended on silk cords at their waists starting about 1700.’
- ‘Metalwork and sword fittings are also displayed alongside examples of inro, which is a sectional case or box worn suspended from the obi by a cord on which the netsuke serves as a toggle.’
- ‘But the emphasis of his artistic and artisan production was on painted screens and on all kinds of lacquerware utensils - inro, boxes, cups, panels and screens.’
- ‘Wearing inro and netsuke became a part of the past for the upper classes and samurai.’
- ‘It was fastened by a sash and personal items were carried in small containers known as inro, which hung from the sash, secured by toggles - netsuke.’
Early 17th century: from Japanese inrō, from in ‘seal’ + rō ‘basket’.
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