Netsuke in form of Tanuki, Japanese raccoon dog

1701-1900 in Japan

Buy this image as a print 

License this image for commercial use at Science and Society Picture Library

Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Ivory netsuke in the form of Tanuki, Japanese raccoon dog, carrying his large scrotum. A mischevious figure in Japanese mythology commonly associated with excessive drinking and gluttony, made in Japan, 1701-1900

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.


Asian Medicine
Object Number:
complete, ivory
netsuke costume (personal accessories), ethnography (japanese), tanuki, costume (personal accessories), ethnography (japanese), netsuke
  • visual and verbal communication
  • sculpture

Cite this page


We encourage the use and reuse of our collection data.

Data in the title, made, maker and details fields are released under Creative Commons Zero

Descriptions and all other text content are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 licence

Using our data


Download catalogue entry as json

Download manifest IIIF

Our records are constantly being enhanced and improved, but please note that we cannot guarantee the accuracy of any information shown on this website.