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The story tells of a monk who went to China to visit the grave of Monju Bosatsu, a disciple of the Buddha. A stone bridge over a deep precipice confronts the monk. As he is about to enter the realm of the deity, a child appears and warns him that only priests who have undergone years of rigorous religious training may cross the bridge. The child then departs, hinting that the priest should wait for something remarkable to happen. With that a lion, the vehicle of Monju Bosatsu, appears and dances amid peonies and butterflies. This scene is also depicted on the netsuke EA2001.38.
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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.
Seaman, Joyce, Manjū: Netsuke from the Collection of the Ashmolean Museum (Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, 2013), illus. p. 156 fig. 48