Important Cultural PropertyBox with tree peony arabesque pattern in mother-of-pearl inlay

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  • 1 piece
  • Lacquered wood
  • L39.0 W65.0 H14.5
  • Chosun (Korea) period/17-18th century
  • Tokyo National Museum
  • TH-298

This shell-inlayed box from the Yi Dynasty is known to have been owned by the Ōuchi clan. It was used to keep garments, as it is shallow and large. The lid fits the body neatly, making the flat and continuous joint surfaces (inrōbuta, lit. seal-lid). A peony arabesque pattern in shell-inlay decorates the entire box. The characteristic of that pattern is the contrast between the flowers and buds expressed boldly with large pieces of shell and the thread-thin vines connecting them. There are several other boxes known to have this type of peony arabesque, but this piece is considered to be particularly excellent, displaying refined taste, as it features the pattern more subtly than the others while using higher quality lacquer.