Important Cultural PropertyWriting table and box lacquered with metal powder, picture of narrow ivy path

Save Image

image 全画面表示


  • By Tatsuke Chōbei
  • 1 piece
  • Lacquered wood
  • Writing table: W59.5 L35.0 H10.0 writing box: L25.2 W22.8 H5.3
  • Edo period/17th century
  • Tokyo National Museum
  • H-106

This set of a writing table and writing box has a picture of a mountain path with thickly-grown ivy and maple trees on the top plate of the table and the surface of the box. The design is expressed with the technique of low-relief raised makie (usuniku takamakie), together with cut metal pieces (kirikane).
Watching the picture carefully, one would notice that there is a wooden carrying box (oi) at the right bottom of the plate of the table. Further, there is a long and narrow object, looking like a knotted letter, tied to the box. It alludes to the ninth chapter of The Tales of Ise (Ise Monogatari), the scene of Mt Utsu, from which the motif of the picture is taken. The chapter begins with the following lines: "I walked and walked, reaching Suruga Province (today’s Shizuoka Prefecture). Having arrived at Mt. Utsu, The path I am entering now is quite dark and narrow, with ivy and maple trees grown thick…"
Makie pieces in the Edo period often show the approach called rusu monyō (lit. absent patterns), which avoids depicting important characters in the scene intentionally, but suggests their presence by showing their belongings. This picture is a good example of that method.