Important Cultural PropertySix-legged Chinese-style chest with circle fire-bird pattern

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  • 1 piece
  • Lacquered wood
  • TotaL H58.8, Lid:68.0x92.0
  • Heian period/12th century
  • Tokyo National Museum
  • N-88

A circular fire-bird pattern of inlaid turban shell decorates the outer sides of the lid, the sides of body and the legs. The fire-birds have their wings spread and tail feathers curled, similar to the round-shaped patterns of animals or flower plants (ban-e) often used in textile works. The shells are used skillfully, looking as if they are painted and their elegant white reflection of light accentuates the voluminous appearance of the chest. This is one of the most important works of Japanese-style shell-inlay developed in the late Heian period. There is a trace of repair, but since this piece was pictured in almost the same condition as today in the catalogue of Hōryūji Treasures made in the Edo period, The Pictures of the Treasures (the foreword was written in Tenpō 13 (1842)), it is thought that the repair was done before that time.

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