Important Cultural PropertyBox with pearls and glass beads

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  • 1 piece
  • 18.4x11.0
  • Nara period/8th century
  • Tokyo National Museum
  • N-89

This box decorated with pearls and beads is referred to as a mokue (wood inlay) in Hōryūji Garan Engi narabini Ruki Shizai Chō (lit. the origin and episodes of the halls of Hōryūji temple and the inventory of its treasures) and is thought to be one of the items donated by Lady Tachibana in Tenpyō 14 (742), based on the inscription on the landscape-pattern pictured with beads and gold and silver paint along the edges. The base of the box is betel-nut-tree plates, each of which is covered with polished bark of plum or cherry with wave-patterns drawn on it with gold and silver paint. The edges are covered with pieces of rosewood, on which hemispherical pearls and beads are embedded by turns. This box is a precious variant of mokue, usually crafted by assembling small wood pieces of different shapes and kinds.