One of a Pair of Incense Boxes in the Shape of Dog Charms

Period: Edo period (1615–1868)

Date: ca. 1840

Culture: Japan

Medium: Porcelain with overglaze enamels (Minpei kilns)

Dimensions: H. 1 3/4 in. (4.4 cm); L. 2 1/2 in. (6.4 cm)

Classification: Ceramics

Credit Line: Gift of Mrs. V. Everit Macy, 1923

Accession Number: 23.225.6a, b


Pairs of dog-shaped papier-mâché figures (inuhariko) were produced from the Heian period on as protective amulets. By the beginning of the Edo period, they were part of the traditional wedding set, used to ensure safe childbirth and also to protect the child's health. Initially, inuhariko pairs—male and female—were presented at the engagement ceremony; later, they had an important role in the wedding process as well—they were carried in the wedding palanquin as good luck amulets. Inuhariko can also be found in the shape of cats.