Shikishi (square calligraphy paper) Box with Design of Flowers and Praying Mantis, Lacquered wood with gold, silver takamaki-e, hiramaki-e, cutout gold foil application, mother-of-pearl inlay on black lacquer ground, Japan

花草蟷螂蒔絵色紙箱
Shikishi (square calligraphy paper) Box with Design of Flowers and Praying Mantis

Period:
Meiji period (1868–1912)
Date:
second half of the19th century
Culture:
Japan
Medium:
Lacquered wood with gold, silver takamaki-e, hiramaki-e, cutout gold foil application, mother-of-pearl inlay on black lacquer ground
Dimensions:
H. 9 3/4 (24.8 cm); W. 8 in. (20.3 cm); D. 1 1/2 in. (3.8 cm)
Classification:
Lacquer
Credit Line:
Bequest of Benjamin Altman, 1913
Accession Number:
14.40.838a, b
Not on view
Writing boxes were produced in large numbers from the seventeenth to the nineteenth century—a testament to the rise of literacy in Japan. As is typical of such boxes, the interior of this piece has a different but related design and holds an inkstone and other implements for writing and ink making. The box’s surface, richly decorated with an image of a praying mantis beneath a basket of strawberry geraniums, is typical of the art of the Meiji period. In Japanese lacquers intended for domestic use, pearl shell plays a secondary role in the decoration; here, it outlines the edges of the flower basket.
Benjamin Altman , New York (until d. 1913; bequeathed to MMA)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Written Image: Japanese Calligraphy and Paintings from the Sylvan Barnet and William Burto Collection," October 1, 2002–March 2, 2003.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Mother-of-Pearl: A Tradition in Asian Lacquer," December 2, 2006–April 1, 2007.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Animals, Birds, Insects, and Marine Life in Japanese Art," June 26, 2008–November 30, 2008.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Japanese Mandalas: Emanations and Avatars," June 18, 2009–November 30, 2009.