Important Cultural PropertyLacquered sutra box with peacock pattern in gold

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  • 1 piece
  • L23.3, W40.0, H25.7
  • Yuan period, China/Yanyou 2(1315)
  • Kyushu National Museum
  • H-6

Many Sokin (gold lacquer) sutra boxes were brought into Japan together with sutras through trading with China in the Muromachi period and have since been prized in Japan. Although there are several sutra boxes similar to this one in Japan, this box stands out in that it has an inscription and has been well preserved.
This is a beveled rectangular box in the form of Aikuchitsukuri (flush closing box), which has a large diamond-shaped flower design in the center of the cover and on the four sides: Inside the diamond flower on the long sides are two peacocks and clouds (on the short sides are two parrots and clouds) and outside the diamond is a peony arabesque pattern, all of which are represented using the Sokin technique. Sokin is a technique where a pattern is lightly engraved on a lacquered plane, in which lacquer is applied to affix gold leaves, which is called Chinkin (gold inlay) in Japan.
There is an inscription written in black lacquer on the back of the lid, which says, “延祐二年/杭州油局/棟梁禅正/橋金家造 (Enyu 2 (1315)/Hangzhou Oil Bureau/Master carpenter Zensho/???). This was probably written using a stencil technique (cut out letters in a mold, pour lacquer on it and then remove the lacquer except for that in the letters). This inscription provides information on the year of creation (1315) and the place of production (Hangzhou, Zhejiang) and constitutes one of the materials valuable for understanding the implications of accepting Chinese artifacts in Japan.