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Turquoise toggle of 3-legged toad, CHINA, 1700s-1900s, Powerhouse Collection, Gift of Mr Alistair Morrison 1992


Chinese Toggles

Chinese belt toggles, known as zhuizi, are small carved ornaments hung at the belt as a counterweight for pouches or cases used to carry items of everyday use such as medicine and money. Their origin is unclear, but the majority of toggles probably date from the 18th and 19th centuries and reflect the increasing use of tobacco. A variety of materials was used to craft toggles: wood, ivory, jade, amber and more. The motifs of toggles embody Chinese symbolic and cultural significance.

The exhibition presents over 80 of the 279 toggle collection held at the Powerhouse Museum, recognised as one of the most significant Chinese belt toggle collections in the world, a large part of which was donated by Hedda and Alastair Morrison.

More information on the exhibition is contained in two articles in the March 2023 issue of the TAASA Review: Chinese Toggles: Culture in Miniature – A Chau Chak Wing and Powerhouse Museum Project by Shuxia Chen and Chinese Belt Toggles from the Powerhouse Collection by Min-Jung Kim.

Dr Shuxia Chen is an art historian and curator of Asian art. She joined the Chau Chak Wing Museum as its inaugural curator for the China Gallery in 2019, with rich interdisciplinary knowledge and strong industry experience in the GLAM sector. She is also Lecturer of Curating and Cultural Leadership at UNSW’s Art & Design and the David Scott Mitchell Memorial Fellow of State Library of NSW (2022). Her previous exhibition at the Chau Chak Wing China Gallery was Sentient Paper.


3 August, 2023
11:00 am - 12:00 pm AEST
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Chau Chak Wing Museum, University Place, The University of Sydney
University Place
Camperdown, NSW 2050 Australia
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