Lacquered wood with gold and silver takamaki–e, hiramaki–e, and gold foil application on nashiji ground; H. 9 in. (22.9 cm), W. 8 1/2 in. (21.6 cm), D. 14 5/8 in. (37.1 cm)
Bequest of Stephen Whitney Phoenix, 1881 (81.1.133a–h)
This cabinet is a portable writing box featuring three drawers. The two upper drawers are for paper and documents, while the one at the bottom holds the inkstone, water-dropper, and brushes. The cabinet is elaborately decorated with the highest quality maki-e (“sprinkled pictures”). As indicated by the round family crests, it was produced for the Tokugawa family in one of their official maki-e workshops, probably that of the Kōami family. The chrysanthemum flowers are depicted almost individually, each executed in a different hue or maki-e (flat or relief pattern) technique emphasizing the layered petal structure. Some of the flowers are shown frontally, others from the side or the back. Chrysanthemums represent longevity, and they are also the symbol of autumn in Japanese poetry and painting.