Tanuki is a mischievous figure in Japanese mythology. He is a Japanese raccoon dog, commonly associated with excessive drinking and gluttony, but also a bringer of good luck. This ivory netsuke is in the form of Tanuki, carrying his grossly enlarged scrotum. Netsuke are toggle-like ornaments. They hang objects such as medicine boxes or tobacco pouches from the sash of a kimono – a traditional form of Japanese dress. Netsuke carving is a form of miniature sculpture which developed in Japan over several hundred years. They were often beautifully decorated with elaborate carving, lacquer work, or inlays and were usually made from wood, ivory or porcelain. Nothing is known about the netsuke owner. Perhaps he carried it as a warning about an excessive lifestyle.
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Glossary: Traditional Chinese Medicine
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a medical tradition originating in China, but now used worldwide. Treatments include herbal medicine, massage and acupuncture, which are combined to create a therapy tailored to the patient.
Small ornamental object carved in wood or ivory. Netsuke were used as toggles (buttons) for Japanese kimonos or pouches in the 1600s.