Lacquered wood with gold takamaki-e, hiramaki-e, and red lacquer on black lacquer ground
H. 2 1/8 in. (5.4 cm), W. 8 in. (20.3 cm), D. 8 1/2 in. (21.6 cm)
Bequest of Stephen Whitney Phoenix, 1881 (81.1.152a,b)
Shikishi—decorative, square-shaped poem cards—are used for calligraphy or painting. The paper is usually decorated with gold or silver flakes and has a printed or painted design that will serve as the background to the calligraphy. As they are precious calligraphy items, square-shaped lacquer boxes (shikishi-bako) were made to store them. This shikishi-box represents a landscape with young pines and nandina shrubs. The young pines symbolize the renewal of nature and longevity, while the evergreen "heavenly bamboo," the nandina, bears red berries that ripen in late autumn and persist through the winter.