Important Cultural PropertyWriting box 'Shio no yama,' lacquered with metal powder, the picture inspired by a poem from the Collection of Ancient and Modern Japanese Poems

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  • 1 piece
  • Lacquered wood
  • 24.7x22.8x5.2
  • Muromachi period/15th century
  • Tokyo National Museum
  • H-448

This writing box is decorated with a picture using ashide, the technique of suggesting the source of the theme of the picture by the combination of visual images and characters. The two characters hidden in the picture –君 (you) and 賀 (congratulations) – indicate that this picture took its idea from one waka poem in the seventh ‘Congratulations’ chapter of Kokinwakashū (Collection of Old and New Japanese Poems, an early Heian waka Imperial anthology), which reads, "Plovers living on the shore of Sashide near Mt. Shio-no are singing wishing your reign to last for thousands of years." The motifs in the picture are expressed with scrupulous makie techniques, vividly conveying the atmosphere of those widely-known utamakura (poetic words, often place-names, used to cultivate allusions and wider imagination) in the waka. This picture is one of the best among numerous pieces with similar concepts.