Unsigned, attributed to Tokoku
Edo (Tokyo), circa 1860
A ryusa style walrus ivory manju carved with a design of flowering peonies and clouds against a full moon. The leaves are inlaid in stained walrus ivory and the blooms in gilt metal and shakudo.
The association of the moon and peonies may refer to the tale of Princess Aya. She is betrothed to marry the son of a local lord, but one night while walking in the garden she stumbles, only to be caught by a handsome samurai who emerges from the peony bed. He then disappears, but shortly after the young girl falls ill and her marriage is postponed. Her father is perplexed by the mystery of what had happened that night and lays in wait, when at a certain moment one of the blooms transforms into the samurai, but when he is captured he once again turns into a peony. The peony is taken to the room of the princess, who recovers her strength while the flower flourishes. On her return to health , her planned marriage takes place, but the peony dies.