Important Cultural PropertyWriting box with motif of court dance and music, in mother-of-pearl inlay

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  • By Honnami Kōetsu
  • 1 piece
  • Lacquered wood
  • L22.8 W21.7 H5.0
  • Edo period/17th century
  • Tokyo National Museum
  • H-4631

This square writing box is of the over-lapping-lid style (kabusebuta-zukuri), with each corner of the lid cut off (sumikiri) and the shoulders beveled. It mostly follows the traditional style of writing boxes, as the water dropper and the inkstone are put on the left half of the minouchi (the inside of the box), while the nesting boxes (kakego) are on the right. The motifs related to bugaku (court dance and music) are pictured on both sides of the lid and the inside: a gong used in bugaku and a dancer with a bugaku hat and a dove staff are on the upper side of the lid, a folding fan and a bugaku costume on the reverse side and a bugaku hat and a shō (a traditional Japanese wind instrument) are on and under the nesting boxes. The compositions of all of the pictures are bold, with the motifs being exceptionally large. The details are expressed finely, even the patterns on the costume or the picture on the folding fan, with a variety of techniques including gold raised makie (takamakie), shell-inlay (raden), cut metal shapes (kirikane) and gold nacre (kanagai). Furthermore, the materials are also elaborate, such as gold sticks and lead plates for inlaying and gold tacks. These features could give an impression that this piece is relatively technique-oriented among Kōetsu's makie works. This piece was formerly owned by the Hachisuka clan, the feudal lord of Tokushima Han (today's Tokushima Prefecture), along with Senmen-torikabuto-makie-ryōshi bako (box for writing paper with a makie of aconite, Important Cultural Property, Tekisui Museum) and Nenohi-makie-tana (shelf with a makie of nenohi, Important Cultural Property, Tokyo National Museum).