Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Writing Box with Portrait of Fujiwara no Ietaka and His Poem about the Tatsuta River

Edo period (1615–1868)
18th century
Lacquered wood with gold and silver hiramaki-e, togidashimaki-e, and red lacquer on silver ground
H. 8 1/2 in. (21.6 cm); W. 8 1/8 in. (20.6 cm); L. 2 in. (5.1 cm)
Credit Line:
H. O. Havemeyer Collection, Bequest of Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, 1929
Accession Number:
Not on view
The poem on the outside of the lid is rendered in fine hiramaki-e, imitating calligraphy in ink. The inside of the box is embellished with colorful maple leaves in a river on nashiji ground. The poem, by Fujiwara no Ietaka (1158–1237), is about the Tatsuta River in Nara Prefecture:

Tatsuta gawa
momiji o tozuru
usugō ri
wataraba kore mo
naka ya taenan

On Tatsuta River
a layer of red maple leaves
is trapped within thin ice,
and if we were to go across
the brocade would be torn.

—Trans. John T. Carpenter
Mrs. H. O. (Louisine W.) Havemeyer , New York (until d. 1929; bequeathed to MMA)
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