This box with a shallow drawer was made to hold Buddhist sutras and is decorated with the sacred symbol of Buddhist art: the lotus pond. The style of the leaves, stems, and seed heads in the various stages of the plant’s life is reminiscent of early seventeenth-century designs by Tawaraya Sōtatsu (died ca. 1640). The application of the hiramaki-e (flat “sprinkled picture”) and e-nashiji (“pear-skin picture”) sprinkling represents a later type of the Kōdaiji lacquer style.
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Title:Sutra Box (Kyōbako) with Lotus Pond
Period:Edo period (1615–1868)
Date:early 17th century
Medium:Lacquered wood with gold togidashimaki-e, hiramaki-e, and e-nashiji (“pear-skin picture”)
Dimensions:H. 5 7/8 in. (15 cm); W. 8 1/8 in. (20.6 cm); L. 14 3/8 in. (36.5 cm)
Credit Line:Mary Griggs Burke Collection, Gift of the Mary and Jackson Burke Foundation, 2015
This box made to hold sutras is decorated with a motif of lotus in a pond—an apt theme, as the lotus is the most sacred plant in Buddhist iconography. The depiction of leaves at various stages of the plant's growth and decay is reminiscent of early-seventeenth-century handscroll designs painted by Sōtatsu and bearing poems inscribed by Hon'ami Kōetsu (cat. no. 84).
Except for the bottom and the interior of the close-fitting lid, both of undecorated lacquer, the design covers the entire surface of the box. A shallow drawer with a metal handle is set into the box just above the base. Gilded metal fittings with incised designs of foliage protect the four corners and the center of each long side of the lid and base. Dewdrops filled with various shades of sprinkled gold are scattered across the black-lacquered background and on the lotus plants. The blossoms, leaves, and stems are filled in with gold dust, and patches of granular gold create a dark and light ground and the impression of subtle shading. Stylistically, the sutra box belongs to the Kōdaiji maki-e type of lacquerware (cat. nos. 88–92 ), but technically the decoration is far more complex and accomplished than that found on other works of the Kōdaiji type. It may therefore be dated to the end of the Momoyama period, in the early seventeenth century.
[Miyeko Murase 2000, Bridge of Dreams]
Signature: Signature on underside- front proper right corner.
Mary Griggs Burke; Mary and Jackson Burke Foundation , New York (until 2015; donated to MMA)
Tokyo National Museum. "Nihon bijutsu meihin ten: nyūyōku bāku korekushon," May 21, 1985–June 30, 1985.
Nagoya City Art Museum. "Nihon bijutsu meihin ten: nyūyōku bāku korekushon," August 17, 1985–September 23, 1985.
Atami. MOA Museum of Art. "Nihon bijutsu meihin ten: nyūyōku bāku korekushon," September 29, 1985–October 27, 1985.
Hamamatsu City Museum of Art. "Nihon bijutsu meihin ten: nyūyōku bāku korekushon," November 12, 1985–December 1, 1985.
New York. Asia Society. "Art of Japan: Selections from the Burke Collection, pts. I and II," October 2, 1986–February 22, 1987.
New York. Asia Society. "The Image and the Word: Buddhist Manuscript Illuminations," April 9, 1987–June 7, 1987.
Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt. "Die Kunst des Alten Japan: Meisterwerke aus der Mary and Jackson Burke Collection," September 16, 1990–November 18, 1990.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Masterpieces of Japanese Art from The Mary Griggs Burke Collection," March 30–June 25, 2000.
Museum of Fine Arts, Gifu. "Enduring Legacy of Japanese Art: The Mary Griggs Burke Collection," July 5, 2005–August 19, 2005.
Hiroshima Prefectural Art Museum. "Enduring Legacy of Japanese Art: The Mary Griggs Burke Collection," October 4, 2005–December 11, 2005.
Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum. "Enduring Legacy of Japanese Art: The Mary Griggs Burke Collection," January 24, 2006–March 5, 2006.
Miho Museum. "Enduring Legacy of Japanese Art: The Mary Griggs Burke Collection," March 15, 2006–June 11, 2006.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Celebrating the Arts of Japan: The Mary Griggs Burke Collection," October 20, 2015–May 14, 2017.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Poetry of Nature: Edo Paintings from the Fishbein-Bender Collection," February 27, 2018–January 21, 2019.
Pal, Pratapaditya, and Julia Meech-Pekarik. Buddhist Book Illuminations. New York: Ravi Kumar Publishers, 1988, p. 301, pl. 87.
Tsuji Nobuo 辻惟雄, Mary Griggs Burke, Nihon Keizai Shinbunsha 日本経済新聞社, and Gifu-ken Bijutsukan 岐阜県美術館. Nyūyōku Bāku korekushon-ten: Nihon no bi sanzennen no kagayaki ニューヨーク・バーク・コレクション展 : 日本の美三千年の輝き(Enduring legacy of Japanese art: The Mary Griggs Burke collection). Exh. cat. [Tokyo]: Nihon Keizai Shinbunsha, 2005, p. 120, cat. no. 60.
Murase, Miyeko, Il Kim, Shi-yee Liu, Gratia W. Nakahashi, Stephanie Wada, Soyoung Lee, and David Ake Sensabaugh. Art Through a Lifetime: The Mary Griggs Burke Collection. Vol. 2, Japanese Objects, Korean Art, Chinese Art. [New York]: Mary and Jackson Burke Foundation, , p. 123, cat. no. 781.
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