Shikishi (square calligraphy paper) Box with Design of Flowers and Praying Mantis
Meiji period (1868–1912)
second half of the19th century
Lacquered wood with gold, silver takamaki-e, hiramaki-e, cutout gold foil application, mother-of-pearl inlay on black lacquer ground
H. 9 3/4 (24.8 cm); W. 8 in. (20.3 cm); D. 1 1/2 in. (3.8 cm)
Bequest of Benjamin Altman, 1913
Not on view
Writing boxes were produced in large numbers from the seventeenth to the nineteenth century—a testament to the rise of literacy in Japan. As is typical of such boxes, the interior of this piece has a different but related design and holds an inkstone and other implements for writing and ink making. The box’s surface, richly decorated with an image of a praying mantis beneath a basket of strawberry geraniums, is typical of the art of the Meiji period. In Japanese lacquers intended for domestic use, pearl shell plays a secondary role in the decoration; here, it outlines the edges of the flower basket.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Written Image: Japanese Calligraphy and Paintings from the Sylvan Barnet and William Burto Collection," October 1, 2002–March 2, 2003.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Mother-of-Pearl: A Tradition in Asian Lacquer," December 2, 2006–April 1, 2007.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Animals, Birds, Insects, and Marine Life in Japanese Art," June 26, 2008–November 30, 2008.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Japanese Mandalas: Emanations and Avatars," June 18, 2009–November 30, 2009.
Artist: Tōyō (Japanese, active second half of the 18th century)Date: second half of the 18th centuryMedium: Three cases; lacquered wood with gold and silver hiramaki-e, togidashimaki-e, and gold foil cutouts on black lacquer ground Netsuke: box with flowers; lacquered wood with hiramaki-e Ojime: coral beadAccession: 13.67.64On view in:Gallery 223
Artist: Somada School Artist (Japanese)Date: late 18th–early 19th centuryMedium: Four cases; lacquered wood with gold hiramaki-e, togidashimaki-e, nashiji (“pear-skin ground”), gold foil cutouts, and mother-of-pearl inlay on black lacquer ground Netsuke: manju type, basket with chrysanthemums; lacquered wood with mother-of-pearl inlay Ojime: carved red lacquer beadAccession: 29.100.729On view in:Gallery 223