Set of Inkstone Boxes and Qiangjin Case

Detail of a pattern
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At A Glance

  • Period

    16th century
  • Geography

    Okinawa prefecture, Japan
  • Material

    Lacquer on wood, mother of pearl and gold
  • Dimension

    H x W x D (outer box): 30.6 x 23.8 x 21.4 cm (12 1/16 x 9 3/8 x 8 7/16 in)
  • Accession Number



Object Details

  • Provenance

    16th century
    Possibly for high-ranking members of Mongol ruling family [1]
    By 1967-?
    Sir John Figgess (1909-1997), method of acquisition unknown [2]
    By 1968-1972
    Oriental House, Ltd., Tokyo, Japan, acquired in Japan, method of acquisition unknown [3]
    Arthur M. Sackler (1913-1987), purchased from Oriental House, Ltd. [4]
    From 1987
    Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Gift of Arthur M. Sackler [5]
    [1] See Lee Yu-Kuan's comments in Lee Yu-kuan, "Oriental Lacquer Art" [book] (New York: Weatherhill, 1968), 140. See also note 2.
    [2]Sir John Figgess was a British diplomat stationed in Tokyo who developed a robust collection of Japanese decorative arts. From 1968-1970 he served as the Commissioner General for Britain at the World Exposition, Osaka and later became the president of the Oriental Ceramic Society. See "Bi no Bi Ten ???? (dai 6-kai,1967)" [exhibition catalogue] (Tokyo: Nihon Keizai Shinbunsha ???????, 1967).
    [3] Oriental House Limited was a business located in Tokyo, Japan that was jointly operated by Sammy Yu-kuan Lee (1902-2011) and David Techun Wang (1905-2005). It is unclear if they jointly owned the company, but their joint ownership of Sammy Y. Lee & Wangs Company, Ltd. in Hong Kong is well established. While Oriental House Limited typically specialized in the sale of Chinese home goods, it occasionally sold antiquities as well. The Hong Kong business specialized in the sale of Chinese antiquities and the production of furniture. When Arthur M. Sackler purchased this object (see note 3), he issued payment to "Oriental House, Ltd. Sammy Lee or David Te-chun Wang," see record of payment, "Lacquerware Collection Associated Accession Numbers -- Purchased from the Oriental House, Ltd."
    [4] See "Agreement" signed by Sammy Yu Kuan Lee on July 17, 1972, and Arthur M. Sackler on September 28, 1972, copy in object file. The document notes that Lee agreed to sell Sacker 100 lacquer objects and that Sackler will pay for the collection in one hundred installments, beginning on August 1, 1972. The document also notes: "The objects are now stored or [are] being exhibited in different countries such as Japan, Hong Kong, France, Germany, and United Kingdom. Mr. Lee or his representative will deliver too Dr. Sackler or his representative the objects as soon as possible within the payment period. The first payment was issued on September 28, 1972, and the last on November 21, 1979.
    [5] Pursuant to the agreement between Dr. Arthur M. Sackler and the Smithsonian Institution, dated July 28, 1982, legal title of the donated objects was transferred to the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery on September 11, 1987.
    Research completed November 17, 2022.
  • Collection

    Arthur M. Sackler Collection
  • Exhibition History

    The Arts of China (November 18, 1990 to September 7, 2014)
    Pavilions and Immortal Mountains: Chinese Decorative Art and Paintings (September 28, 1987 to February 28, 1988)
  • Previous custodian or owner

    Dr. Arthur M. Sackler (1913-1987)
    Sammy Yu Kuan Lee 李汝寬
    Oriental House LTD
    Sir John Figgess
  • Origin

    Okinawa prefecture, Japan
  • Credit Line

    Gift of Arthur M. Sackler
  • Type

  • Restrictions and Rights

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