Pipe holder in the form of Ashinaga and crab-shaped tobacco pouch

Accession Number

Pipe holder in the form of Ashinaga and crab-shaped tobacco pouch


Artist Nationality
Japanese (culture or style)

Object Creation Date
circa 1810-1849

Medium & Support
bone and stag antler

8 1/4 in. x 1 3/16 in. x 1 1/4 in. ( 20.9 cm x 3 cm x 3.1 cm )

Credit Line
Gift of the William T. and Dora G. Hunter Collection

Label copy
Three pieces are combined here to make a fashion accessory for a Japanese man of the mid- to late 19th century. The pipe holder (in Japanese, kiseruzutsu), is in the form of Ashinaga, or “Long Legs” a mythological creature associated with water and fishing. No signature has been deciphered on the carved Ashinaga figure, but stylistically it may be attributed to the studio of Katsushika Hokusai ((1760–1849). Hokusai published at least one volume designs for tobacco paraphernalia, entitled Imayo kushi kiseru hinagata (Patterns for modern combs and pipes; issued in 1823). The accompanying tobacco container (tonkotsu) takes the shape of a crab with dragon claws, and it does bear a signature that appears to read "Hokusai" on the reverse. However, there are no known examples of carvings by any artist named Hokusai, so the attribution is still under research. Finally, the toggle on the cord connecting the two is called an ojime. It is in the shape of a bell or tablet, decorated with a snail, and signed "Ikkoku."
Maribeth Graybill, Senior Curator of Asian Art, September 2004

Primary Object Classification
Decorative Arts

Primary Object Type
pipe holder

Collection Area

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antlers (animal components)
bone (material)
pipes (smoking equipment)
tobacco (material)

1 Related Resource

Japan Pax Tokugawa 1600-1868
(Part of: Empires and Colonialism)

& Author Notes

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