Eastern Art Online, Yousef Jameel Centre for Islamic and Asian Art

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Manjū netsuke depicting the gods Daikoku and Ebisu dressed as manzai dancers

Glossary (3)

Manjū, manzai, netsuke

  • Manjū

    The manjū is a type of netsuke or toggle which takes its name from a round, sweet, bean paste-filled bun. A greater dynamism can often be achieved on the front and back of the netsuke than with other three-dimensional carving.

  • manzai

    Manzai dancing originated in China and has been performed in Japan since the eighth century. Traditional manzai had two representatives from a shrine or temple. One of them played the ‘wit’ and the other the ‘straight man’.

  • netsuke

    The netsuke is a form of toggle that was used to secure personal items suspended on cords from the kimono sash. These items included purses, medicine cases or tobacco paraphernalia.


    • currently in research collection

Objects are sometimes moved to a different location. Our object location data is usually updated on a monthly basis. Contact the Jameel Study Centre if you are planning to visit the museum to see a particular object on display, or would like to arrange an appointment to see an object in our reserve collections.


Publications online

  • Japanese Decorative Arts of the Meiji Period 1868-1912 by Oliver Impey and Joyce Seaman

    Japanese Decorative Arts of the Meiji Period

    Manjū netsuke with a lively design carved in sunken relief of two of the Seven Gods of Good Fortune (Shichifukujin) posing as street entertainers. Daikoku, his mallet tucked into his belt, beats a drum as Ebisu, fan in hand, dances to the rhythm.

    Ikkosai Kōjitsu (1833-1893) specialised in the carving of ivory manjū netsuke, after joining the Hōjitsu School in Tōkyō. The great Ansei earthquake and fire in Tōkyō in 1854 destroyed large numbers of netsuke and in order to replace them in a less time-consuming way, a cirle of ivory was cut and the basic shape turned on a lathe. The carved decoration was then added by hand. Although the shape existed before, many of this type date from after the disaster. The name manjū refers to the shape of bean-cakes.

    The Barnett bequest, of which this netsuke is representative, was given to the museum after the publication of Japanese Netsuke in Oxford in 1987.

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