lacquered writing box with heavily decorated cover and sides; zigzag down center divides pine tree with plum blossoms against a black background, from motif of chrysanthemums and leaves against reddish background; motifs continue on sides; ink stone and two empty boxes inside

Writing box with pines, plum, chrysanthemums, and paulownia, 16th century

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Kodaiji style lacquer

Writing boxes (suzuribako) were used to hold an assortment of writing utensils, including an inkstone, a water dropper, brushes, and sticks of ink. On each side of the bold zigzag is a combination of auspicious floral motifs in maki-e, or “sprinkled picture,” a technique in which artists apply metallic flakes or powder on the lacquer surface before it fully dries. On the upper left are seen pine trees and plum blossoms on a black-lacquer background, and on the lower right chrysanthemums and paulownia decorate a red background created with the nashiji (pear-skin) technique. The zigzag is a unique design feature of lacquer objects created in the so-called Kōdaiji style, which developed in the late 1500s and was associated with the temple Kōdaiji in Kyoto.

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Details
Title
Writing box with pines, plum, chrysanthemums, and paulownia
Role
Artist
Accession Number
2015.79.407a-f
Catalogue Raisonne
Murase, Art through a Lifetime, no. 780
Curator Approved

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lacquered writing box with heavily decorated cover and sides; zigzag down center divides pine tree with plum blossoms against a black background, from motif of chrysanthemums and leaves against reddish background; motifs continue on sides; ink stone and two empty boxes inside