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Writing Box with Waterfall and Auspicious Characters

Period:
Edo period (1615–1868)
Date:
late 18th century
Culture:
Japan
Medium:
Lacquered wood with gold and silver takamaki-e, hiramaki-e, togidashimaki-e, and gold inlay on nashiji ground
Dimensions:
H. 2 1/4 in. (5.7 cm); W. 9 1/2 in. (24.1 cm); D. 10 3/8 in. (26.4 cm)
Classification:
Lacquer
Credit Line:
Bequest of Stephen Whitney Phoenix, 1881
Accession Number:
81.1.173
  • Description

    The writing box (suzuri-bako) contains an inkstone, a water dropper in the shape of cherry blossoms, and a brush. The design on the front of the lid is dominated by a rapid waterfall; the stream descends through a range of mountains and rocks surrounded by pine trees and bamboo grass. The river is depicted in gold and silver maki-e that has been burnished down until it is completely flat, a technique called togidashi. Fine lines express the fast-flowing water. At the bottom of the waterfall, bubbly waves are executed in silver and are further enhanced with silver-inlaid roundels to express water drops. There are seven gold-inlaid characters that might refer to a poem or express auspicious notions, such as “turtle” or “thousand years.” Inside the lid the waterfall design is repeated without the characters. The design might refer to the picturesque Miyano-taki falls near Yoshino (Nara Prefecture), a waterfall that has significance in Japanese literature.

  • Provenance

    Stephen Whitney Phoenix , New York (until d. 1881)

  • See also
    What
    Where
    When
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
57603:1

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