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Tidbits - ojime



In days of old/when clothes were bold/and kimonos were the

So what…some few of you may ask…is an Ojime…or a
Netsuke…or even a Sagemono…and what does this have to do with
jewelry, buddy? You wanna tell me that? Hunh? Well all right,
since you ask…and since you’re all so polite about it to
boot…I’ll tell you.

In ancient Japan, beginning somewhere around the 1600’s, men and
women all wore kimonos. Only thing wrong with kimonos however,
was the fact that they didn’t have pockets. Now where were guys
going to put their tokens, or even those things they carry in
their wallets in case of emergencies? Well…for every problem
there’s a solution…or at least that’s what some folks say. And
the solution here was to take all those things essential to every
day living, and suspend them with cords from the kimono sash. The
object, let’s say for arguments sake that today our hero is
wearing a rabbits’ foot for good luck…well, that rabbit’s foot
suspended from the cord is called: Sagemono. Now there comes a
toggle with which to hook the Sagemono and that toggle is called:
Netsuke. And last but not least…the cord fastener itself, which
is called" Ojime (pronounced: oh-gee-meh) without accent on any

For today…we concentrate on Ojime…beautifully carved
ornaments made of many materials including coral, silver, ivory,
porcelain, jade, gold, wood, metal, copper, leather, and on and
on. You think of a material, the jewelers of feudal Japan used it
for Ojime.

Ojimes were worn by the fashion setters of the day. Beneath a
kimono, a bright scarlet underrobe to attract a lady’s eye. Over
the kimono, a jacket with a velvet lining. At the hip, a sword
with trimmings in pale violet. And from the sash, a lavender cord
with Sagemono and secured with two golden Ojime. This was the Don
Juan of the day. He strutted the streets with his head held high,
and his Ojime clanking. Women adored him. They tittered behind
fluttering fans, remarking to each other in secret. Hey…did you
see the pair of Ojime on that guy?

Still, in all seriousness…Ojime constituted a tour-de-force in
artistic beauty. To see the craftsmanship that went into these
objects is to feast your eyes on the quintessence of form and
function and sheer sensory impulses. What Ojime loses in size–
a whole collection of these tiny sculptures can fit into a
jewelry box–it more than makes up in the immensity of the
sculptured skills of the jeweler’s creation.

There is modern Ojime that emanated during the early years of
the 20th century as artists vied for income during an era when
art for art’s sake began to wane. Of course, if you make it to
sell cheaply, you gets what you paid for…and the quality of
these Ojime did not compare to those of earlier days. (Anything
here sound familiar folks? Anybody see a recurrent pattern?)

Ojime were often carved into the twelve zodiacal animals. Re:
Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey,
Rooster, Dog, and Boar. Now there’s a whole system of figuring
out marriage prospects based on your sign versus your mate’s
sign. Listen, I’m not going to go through the whole thing. But
I’ll give you a couple of examples. If you’re born under the sign
of the Rat, and you want a happy marriage …marry the sign of
the Monkey. Marry the sign of the Tiger and you’re in deep
trouble. Ox and Rooster is good. Rabbit and Dragon are bad. Sheep
and Ox is a no no. Dog and the Horse are the best. Of course, if
any of you want a private reading…let me know. I’ll take care
of it in my spare time…when I’m not creating beautiful
artifacts for you out there in Internet land.

And there ya have it.
That’s it for this week folks.
Catch you all next week.

Take care,
Benjamin Mark

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