Tobacco pouch and pipe, 18th century
Pouch and pipe case: embossed leather, silver foil, color; clasp: gold, shakudô, shibuichi; ojime: gold; netsuke: freshwater pearl, gold; pipe: metal; pouch: H. 4 in. (10.2 cm), W. 5 1/4 in. (13.3 cm); pipe case: L. 9 in. (22.9 cm); pipe L. 10 1/2 in. (26.7 cm); netsuke: Diam. 1 1/2 in. (3.8 cm)
Bequest of Benjamin Altman, 1913 (14.40.843a,b)
When the Portuguese arrived on Japan's shores in the mid-sixteenth century, they brought with them the practice of pipe smoking. In order to carry the necessary accoutrements, the Japanese suspended tobacco pouches and pipe cases on cords from their obi sashes, anchored by a netsuke.
This set, produced from expensive and exotic materials such as embossed leather, gold, copper and silver alloys, and a freshwater pearl netsuke embedded in gold, proclaims the wealth of its owner.