string(22) "edanmdm:fsg_F2005.2a-m" Inkstone box (suzuribako) - National Museum of Asian Art

Inkstone box (suzuribako)

Detail of a pattern
Image 1 of 4

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At A Glance

  • Period

    17th century
  • Geography

  • Material

    Lacquer on wood with gold and silver
  • Dimension

    H x W x D (overall): 5.5 x 22.9 x 24.8 cm (2 3/16 x 9 x 9 3/4 in)
  • Accession Number



Object Details

  • Description

    Black lacquer over wood w/ gold and silver flakes (maki-e). Gold, silver inlay (takamaki-e). Metal water dropper (suiteki).
    Exterior of this box is decorated in a variety of Japanese techniques known as maki-e, which gold and silver particles and leaf embedded in lacquer. In an autumnal mountain landscape with a windblown maple tree and ivy vines stands a Buddhist priest’s backpack (oi) formed of solid silver. Among the contours of the tree and rocks, three calligraphic characters in silver (yume=dream; ni=in; hito=person) represent three elements of a poem in the tenth-century classic of Japanese court literature, Tales of Ise. In the famous episode known as Tsuta no hosomichi (The narrow ivy path), the poet-hero is traveling in eastern Japan, and encounters and ascetic monk on a dark mountain path overgrown with ivy and maples. The remote and lonely imagery of this scene is reflected in the hero’s poem:
    Beside Mount Utsu Suruga naru
    In Suruga Utsu no yamabe no
    I can see you Utsutsu ni mo
    Neither waking Yume ni mo hito ni
    Nor alas, even in my dreams. Awanu narikeri
    The interior of the box is decorated with a refined design of a garden fence and a pine tree entwined with blooming wisteria.
  • Inscriptions

    Inscription on exterior of outer wooden box lid. Two paper labels on interior of same lid.
  • Provenance

    Unidentified Japanese collector [1]
    To 2005
    Koichi Yanagi Oriental Fine Arts, New York to 2005, acquired from an unidentified Japanese collector, to 2005 [2]
    From 2005
    Freer Gallery of Art, purchased from Koichi Yanagi Oriental Fine Arts in 2005
    [1] According to Mr. Yanagi, the object came from a Japanese collection (see Curatorial Note 3, Ann Yonemura, January 2005, from Curatorial Justification for Acquisition).
    [2] See note 1.
  • Collection

    Freer Gallery of Art Collection
  • Exhibition History

    Painting the Classics: Presence and Absence (November 3, 2018 to October 14, 2019)
    Japanese Arts in the Edo Period: 1615-1868, part 2 (March 8 to September 7, 2008)
    Japanese Arts in the Edo Period: 1615-1868, part 1 (August 18, 2007 to February 24, 2008)
  • Previous custodian or owner

    Koichi Yanagi Oriental Fine Arts
  • Origin

  • Credit Line

    Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
  • Type

  • Restrictions and Rights

    Usage Conditions Apply

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