Box with Crabs and Waves
Edo period (1615–1868)
Lacquered wood with gold hiramaki-e and e-nashiji on black lacquer ground
H. 6 3/4 in. (17.1 cm); W .6 in. (15.2 cm); L.12 1/2 in. (31.8 cm)
Lent by Florence and Herbert Irving
The somewhat unusual shape of this box suggests that it might have been used to hold implements for painting, such as ink stones, brushes, and pigments. Variations in texture on the crab shells and in the rendering of the dramatic waves are a result of the different sizes and densities of the sprinkled gold, and of the various methods used to apply the gold powder. This box, with its bold and decorative design, could have been used by a well-to-do individual living in a cultural center such as Edo (present-day Tokyo)or Kyoto.