The Power Institute Foundation for Art and Visual Culture

Chinese Toggles: Culture in Miniature (preorder)


Edited by Shuxia Chen and Min-Jung Kim 

With contributions by Elizabeth Carter, Paul Donnelly, Gu Fang, Meredith Freeman, Thérèse Harrison, Lorraine Leung, Claire Roberts and Brad Swarbrick

This book introduces the understudied cultural artifact of the Chinese belt toggle, known as zhuizi (). Similar to their better-known Japanese counterparts netsuke, these small carved ornaments offer a rare glimpse into everyday life in early modern China. Toggles were a feature of traditional Chinese garments from the 17th century but were scarcely collected. A collaboration between the Powerhouse Museum and Chau Chak Wing Museum at the University of Sydney, this publication reveals one of the world’s largest collections of these extraordinary objects. 

More than personal accessories, toggles were wearable symbols, embodying Chinese folk traditions and cultural beliefs. Today, they can speak to 300 years of Chinese culture across various levels of society. These intricately carved miniatures display the finesse of traditional craft skills through a broad range of materials from jade, ivory and amber to wood, glass and seeds.

Coinciding with an exhibition of the same title at the University of Sydney’s Chau Chak Wing Museum, Chinese Toggles: Culture in Miniature, combines curatorial and scientific analysis of the objects’ histories and materials by art historians, archaeologists, scientists, and curators.

Edited by the exhibition’s curators, this book allows a larger audience to engage with these unique objects, pairing academic enquiry with detailed photographic documentation of both the exhibition itself, and the catalogue of 80 toggles.


Please note that preorders will be sent out in August

Design and typesetting by Matt Nix

Edition of 750

ISBN 978-0-909952-24-2

180 illustrations (167 colour, 17 black and white)
Approx. 256. pp
180 x 200mm

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