unsigned ivory netsuke

18th century

parent and two young sanbikisaru

height 2 5/8 in., 6.8 cm

the standing parent holds one of its young to its stomach, its paw covering the baby's eyes, while it in turn reaches up to grap at the adult's ear; the second young balances on the parent's shoulder with a hand over its mouth, forming an amusing group of sanbikisaru, bearing a soft patina

The triad of hear-no-evil Kikazaru, see-no-evil Mizaru, and speak-no-evil Iwazaru are well known throughout Asia. In Japan they are associated with Saruta Hiko, the deity of roads. In The Animal in Far Eastern Art, Volker records that a stone statue of the group stands by the Tokaido highway where it crosses the river Yokota near Tokyo.

Expressions of Style: Netsuke as Art, Scholten Japanese Art, New York, August 2001, no. 155


Scholten Japanese Art is open Monday - Friday, and some Saturdays by appointment only

Contact Katherine Martin at
(212) 585-0474 or email
to schedule a visit between 11am and 4pm preferably for no more than two individuals at a time.
Visitors are asked to wear face masks and practice social distancing at their discretion.

site last updated
October 28, 2021

Scholten Japanese Art
145 West 58th Street, suite 6D
New York, New York 10019
ph: (212) 585-0474
fx: (212) 585-0475