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MS Thr 1040

Stillman, E. G. (Ernest Goodrich), 1884-1949, collector. Ernest Goodrich Stillman collection of Japanese theater masks netsuke, circa 1700-1899: Guide.

Houghton Library, Harvard Library, Harvard University


Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138 USA

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Location: b
Call No.: MS Thr 1040
Repository: Houghton Library, Harvard Library, Harvard University
Creator: Stillman, E. G. (Ernest Goodrich), 1884-1949.
Title: Ernest Goodrich Stillman collection of Japanese theater masks netsuke,
Date(s): 1700-1899.
Quantity: 1 collection (1 linear foot (1 box)
Language of materials: Collection materials are in Japanese.
Abstract: Collection of theatre masks netsuke acquired by Dr. Ernest Goodrich Stillman on his trips to Japan.

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

No accession number. Gift of Ernest Goodrich Stillman ; received: : 1947 November 12.

Processing Information:

Processed by: Irina Klyagin

Conditions Governing Access:

There are no restrictions on physical access to this material. Collection is open for research.

Preferred Citation for Publication:

Ernest Goodrich Stillman Collection of Japanese Theater Masks Netsuke, circa 1700-1899 (MS Thr 1040). Harvard Theatre Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard University.

Biographical / Historical

One of the many categories of netsuke, "Mennetsuke" or mask netsuke are carved reproductions of masks used in various forms and genre of Japanese theater performances. Netsuke were used to ornament tobacco pouches and wallets worn on belts in traditional Japanese dress, primarily by men.
Ernest Goodrich Stillman made his first trip to Japan in 1905 before his freshman year at Harvard University. That first trip led to a lifetime pursuit. After he returned home, he became a member of the Asiatic Society of Japan and the Japan Society of New York, and over the years he amassed a large library of materials related to Japanese culture and history, original prints and paintings, books, journals, pamphlets, and photographs. Over the last 20 years of his life, he donated most of his Japanese collection to Widener Library and also served as honorary curator of the collection from 1946 until his death in 1949.
He gave his collection of mask netsuke to the Harvard Theatre Collection; other netsuke from his collection went to different museums in New England.


Arranged by type of mask.

Scope and Contents

23 theater mask netsuke in this collection represent popular masks of characters from Nō, Kyōgen , Bugaku, Gagaku, and other types of traditional Japanese theatre. Several were carved by famous masters. Originally assigned HTC database numbers recorded for each item.

Container List