Lacquered wood with gold and silver takamaki–e, hiramaki–e, togidashimaki–e, and gold inlay on nashiji ground; H. 2 1/4 in. (5.7 cm); W. 9 1/2 in. (24.1 cm); D. 10 3/8 in. (26.4 cm)
Bequest of Stephen Whitney Phoenix, 1881 (81.1.173)
This writing box 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 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 polished back (completely flat) maki-e (togidashi), with fine lines expressing the fast-flowing water. At the bottom of the waterfall, bubbly waves are executed in silver and further enhanced with silver-inlaid roundels to express water drops. There are seven inlaid-gold characters that might refer to a poem or just 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 Miya-no-taki falls near Yoshino (Nara Prefecture), a waterfall extolled in classical Japanese prose and poetry.