山吹蒔絵五段重硯箱 Set of Five Writing Boxes with Japanese Globeflowers, Plum Blossoms, and Interlaced Roundels
Edo period (1615–1868)
late 18th–early 19th century
Lacquered wood with gold and silver hiramaki-e and applied gold foil on nashiji ground
H. 9 1/4 in. (23.5 cm); W. 6 3/4 in. (17.1 cm); D. 10 1/4 in. (26 cm)
Bequest of Stephen Whitney Phoenix, 1881
Not on view
Writing-box sets are used in poetry contests or incense games in which several participants have to write at the same time. The writing boxes are distributed at the beginning of the event and collected at the end. This set of five boxes is housed in an open frame decorated with a landscape with a river and Japanese globeflowers. The lid of the stacked boxes is embellished with a plum-tree branch and brushwood fence, a well-known design from the Tōshōgū (Tokugawa memorial shrine) in Nikkō, where the door of the main shrine is decorated with a similar motif. The sides are embellished with interlaced gold and silver roundels (shippō), an auspicious motif on nashiji (pear skin) ground.
Stephen Whitney Phoenix , New York (until d. 1881; bequethed to MMA)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "A Sensitivity to the Seasons: Spring and Summer," December 17, 2005–June 4, 2006.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Graceful Gestures: Two Decades of Collecting Japanese Art," 2007.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "A Drama of Eyes and Hands: Sharaku's Portraits of Kabuki Actors," September 20, 2007–March 24, 2008.