Document Box with a Scene from the “Butterflies” Chapter of The Tale of Genji

Period: Meiji period (1868–1912)

Date: 20th century

Culture: Japan

Medium: Lacquered wood with gold and silver takamaki-e, hiramaki-e, togidashimaki-e, cut-out gold foil on nashiji and gold ground

Dimensions: H. 6 1/4 in. (15.9 cm); W. 13 3/4 in. (34.9 cm); L. 17 1/2 in. (44.5 cm)

Classification: Lacquer

Credit Line: Anonymous Gift, from the Collection of the late Mr. and Mrs. Benjamin DeWitt Riegel, 1981

Accession Number: 1981.243.1a–f


This lavishly decorated document box demonstrates the skill of a Meiji-period maki-e master. It is decorated with flowering cherry trees, a young willow tree, and a pleasure boat carrying a large gagaku drum for water music, as described in chapter 24 of The Tale of Genji. Genji, Lady Murasaki, and several courtiers set out for a spring boat party accompanied by musicians, and later exchange poems in celebration of the season.

Part of a set with 1981.243.2(a-m)