Help us bring life to art, and art to lives. Make a donation.

close-button
Art/ Collection/ Art Object
{{img.publicCaption}}

Incense Box in the Shape of a Plum Blossom

Period:
Edo period (1615–1868)
Date:
ca. 1850
Culture:
Japan
Medium:
Porcelain with overglaze enamels (Hizen ware)
Dimensions:
H. 1 3/4 in. (4.4 cm); W. 2 1/2 in. (6.4 cm); D. 2 1/2 in. (6.4 cm)
Classification:
Ceramics
Credit Line:
Edward C. Moore Collection, Bequest of Edward C. Moore, 1891
Accession Number:
91.1.211
Not on view
Plum trees were not native to Japan, but were brought over to the island country from China in the Nara period (710–784). Plum blossoms appeared instantly in contemporary court literature, where they were associated with the bush warbler, representing the beginning of spring. Along with its symbolic value as a harbinger of spring, the plum blossom's sweet fragrance was also an inspiration for courtly poetry. From as early as the Heian period (794–1185), plum trees appeared in paintings and in stylized form on decorative art objects, upon which frequently only the flowers were depicted. From the early history of the Japanese incense culture, plum had a significant role. Several incense mixtures and incense games were related to the flower. As a reference to its smell, the plum motif was often represented on incense-related utensils. Incense mixture balls would most likely have been stored in this plum-flower-shaped incense box.
Marking: (On base) : Fuku, in black on green
Edward C. Moore , New York (until d. 1891; bequeathed to MMA).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Poetry and Travel in Japanese Art," December 18, 2008–May 31, 2009.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "A Beautiful Country: Yamato-e in Japanese Art," November 20, 2010–June 5, 2011.

Related Objects

Cup with Butterflies-and-Iris Design and Basketry Exterior

Artist: Zōshuntei Sanpo (brand name used 1841–78) Date: ca. 1840–60s Medium: Porcelain with overglaze polychrome enamels, fine basketwork exterior (Arita ware, product of Hisatomi Yojibei) Accession: 93.3.512 On view in:Gallery 229

Cup with Bird-and-Flower Design and Basketry Exterior

Artist: Zōshuntei Sanpo (brand name used 1841–78) Date: ca. 1840–60s Medium: Porcelain with overglaze polychrome enamels, fine basketwork exterior (Arita ware, product of Hisatomi Yojibei) Accession: 79.2.1232 On view in:Gallery 229

Saucer with Bird-and-Flower Design and Basketry Exterior

Artist: Zōshuntei Sanpo (brand name used 1841–78) Date: ca 1840–60s Medium: Porcelain with overglaze polychrome enamels, fine basketwork exterior (Arita ware, product of Hisatomi Yojibei) Accession: 79.2.1038 On view in:Gallery 229

Dish with Three Jars

Date: 1680–90s Medium: Porcelain with underglaze blue and overglaze polychrome enamels (Hizen ware, Nabeshima type) Accession: 1975.268.563 On view in:Not on view

Saucer with Floral Design and Basketry Exterior

Artist: Zōshuntei Sanpo (brand name used 1841–78) Date: ca. 1840–60s Medium: Porcelain painted with polychrome enamels over a transparent glaze; basketry exterior (Arita ware, product of Hisatomi Yojibei) Accession: 79.2.1051 On view in:Gallery 229