Important Cultural PropertyWriting box with motif of Mt Hatsuse in mother-of-pearl inlay

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  • 1 piece
  • Lacquered wood
  • L22.4 W21.2 H4.5
  • Muromachi- Azuchi-Momoyama period/16th century
  • Tokyo National Museum
  • H-4524

The entire surface is lacquered in black, with light pearskin decoration (nashiji). On the upper side of the lid, a mountain covered with dense forests is featured using mainly the gold raised makie technique (takamakie), with the moon in silver nacre (kanagai). In the picture, the blooming branches of the trees on the mountain are particularly large, suggesting that the mountain is Mt. Hatsuse, famous for its flowers. The motif is thought to have been taken from waka poems mentioning that place, such as the one in the second scroll of Shinshokukokin Wakashū (New Collection of Ancient and Modern Times Continued, the last Imperial waka-poem anthology), which reads, "The spring wind has blown hard to the flowers on Mt. Hatsuse. The dawn moon is above the cloudless peak."
In this unconventional composition with the large motif that is out of proportion, we can see a new, freer approach to art about to bloom at the beginning of modern times. The contrast between the mountain and the trees and the moon is also vivid and successful: the former are in gold, raised three-dimensional makie, while the latter is in a thin and flat silver sheet.