Set of Inkstone Boxes and Qiangjin Case

Historical period(s)
16th century
Lacquer on wood, mother of pearl and gold
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)
Japan, Okinawa prefecture
Credit Line
Gift of Arthur M. Sackler
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view
Container, Lacquer

Inkstone box

Japan, WWII-era provenance
Provenance research underway.

This container is comprised of thirteen stacked boxes to create a compact, portable unit. Each box contains an inkstone and acoutrements for writing, creating an ensemble to take on an outing to compose poetry and write calligraphy, a favorite pastime of the elite.

The stacked boxes indicate that there was exchange of lacquer techinques and motifs within Asia. The flowering plum-and-crescent moon is a Chinese motif, but details, such as the presence of the character that means "heaven," written on the bottom of some boxes, indicate that they were actually made in the Ryukyu Islands, once an independent kingdom and now part of Japan (modern-day Okinawa).

Published References
  • Lee Yu-kuan. Oriental Lacquer Art., 1st ed. New York. pp. 138-140.
  • et al. Asian Art in the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery: The Inaugural Gift. Washington, 1987. cat. 177, p. 268.
  • James C.Y. Watt, Barbara Brennan Ford. East Asian Lacquer: The Florence and Herbert Irving Collection. New York. pp. 331-333.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
SI Usage Statement

Usage Conditions Apply

There are restrictions for re-using this image. For more information, visit the Smithsonian's Terms of Use page.

The information presented on this website may be revised and updated at any time as ongoing research progresses or as otherwise warranted. Pending any such revisions and updates, information on this site may be incomplete or inaccurate or may contain typographical errors. Neither the Smithsonian nor its regents, officers, employees, or agents make any representations about the accuracy, reliability, completeness, or timeliness of the information on the site. Use this site and the information provided on it subject to your own judgment. The Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery welcome information that would augment or clarify the ownership history of objects in their collections.