Inrō with Tanabata Story of the Weaver and the Herdboy, Nomura Kyūkoku (Japanese, active first half of the 19th century), Three cases; lacquered wood with gold hiramaki-e and ivory inlay on mother-of-pearl ground; Netsuke: carved ivory; flowers and grasses with silver butterflies; Ojime: silver and gold quail in autumn grasses, Japan

七夕蒔絵印籠
Inrō with Tanabata Story of the Weaver and the Herdboy

Artist:
Nomura Kyūkoku (Japanese, active first half of the 19th century)
Period:
Edo period (1615–1868)
Date:
active first half of the19th century
Culture:
Japan
Medium:
Three cases; lacquered wood with gold hiramaki-e and ivory inlay on mother-of-pearl ground; Netsuke: carved ivory; flowers and grasses with silver butterflies; Ojime: silver and gold quail in autumn grasses
Dimensions:
Overall (inro): H. 3 7/8 in. (9.8 cm); W. 2 11/16 in. (6.9 cm); D. 13/16 in. (2 cm)
Overall (netsuke): H. 11/16 in. (1.7 cm); Diam. 1 11/16 in. (4.3 cm)
Overall (ojime): H. 9/16 in. (1.5 cm); W. 9/16 in. (1.4 cm)
Classification:
Inrō
Credit Line:
Bequest of Benjamin Altman, 1913
Accession Number:
14.40.878a, b
Not on view
One of the relatively large pieces of mother-of-pearl that comprise the surface of this inro was colored with gold and incised to create an image of a silk winder, identifying the imagery as a representation of the Milky Way. The winder refers to the Weaver Star, who is tragically separated by the Milky Way from her lover, the Cowherd Star. The two are allowed to meet only once a year, a union that is the basis for Tanabata, or the Star Festival, in Japan, held annually between July 7 and August 7. Over time, this festival has been conflated with Obon, a celebration of one's ancestors.
Signature: Kyukoku; sign add.: incised

Marking: Seal: Kakihan
Benjamin Altman , New York (until d. 1913; bequeathed to MMA)
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. "No Ordinary Mortals: The Human Figure in Japanese Art," 2007–2008.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Ukiyo-e Artists' Responses to Romantic Legends of Two Brothers: Narihira and Yukihira," March 27, 2008–June 8, 2008.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Landscapes in Japanese Art," June 24, 2010–November 7, 2010.