Incense box (kobako) in the shape of a Mandarin Duck, Meiji period (1868–1912)
Maki–e decorated lacquer; H. 3 1/8 in. (7.9 cm), W. 3 15/16 in. (10 cm), L. 5 3/16 in. (13.2 cm)
H. O. Havemeyer Collection, Bequest of Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, 1929 (29.100.717)
This finely executed incense box features several gold and silver maki-e (decoration in gold and/or silver sprinkled powder) techniques and decorative details such as geometric gold foil application and line drawing. The box is shaped as a swimming Mandarin Duck; waves are depicted on the side. It is likely that this box was one of a pair, forming an auspicious symbol of love. Inside the box is a small tray for presenting incense. The style and shape recall eighteenth-century incense boxes, some of which were owned by European aristocrats as exotic curiosities, but this box was produced in the Meiji period (1868–1912), and thus represents the revival of the eighteenth-century style.