Important Cultural PropertyAbbots' seat with bellflower-circle pattern lacquered with metal powder

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  • 1 piece
  • Lacquered wood
  • H13.3 L66.0 W66.0
  • Kamakura period/13th century
  • Tokyo National Museum
  • H-4273

A raiban is a square shaped platform for a monk, placed in front of the Buddhist altar. It is used by most Buddhist schools except for Zen, Ji and some others. It is usually used with a tatami mat called hanjō (lit. half-tatami) on it, a sūtra desk in front, a kin (inverted bowl-shaped bell) on the right and a side-desk to put objects such as a censor on the left.
The top plate is square with rounded corners, supported by the nekoashi style legs (lit. cat-leg, carved leg with ball-and-claw foot) with wooden corbels. There are two types of raiban – box-shaped and cat-legged – and this piece is one of the oldest surviving cat-legged ones.
The edge and the sides of the top plate are decorated with the bellflower-circle pattern in makie, using tin powder. Although not many makie with tin powder have survived, it is referred to repeatedly as `white-solder makie' in the records of the Heian period. The technique is thought to have been used often in that time.
The sides of the rounded corners are ornamented with narrow metalwork fittings, which are decorated with the bellflower-circle motif line-engraved on the nanako-ji surface (pattern of small circular lumps). The corbels and the lower ends of the legs are also covered with metal ornaments. These features give this piece a dignified outlook.