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Box: O.3 & A-I-1947

Object information

Awaiting location update






Lacquer box, suzuri-bako (box for writing utensils) and wooden box. Writing box (suzuri-bako), lacquer with pewter rims. Rectangular with rounded indented corners and a seated lid (A). The brown lacquer and gyobu nashiji ground (nashiji using large flakes of gold placed individually rather than sprinkled) is decorated in gold takamakie (high-relief sprinkled design) with a gnarled trunk of a camelia tree with a single branch. The branch has leaves, blossom and buds, two flower heads and three buds are inlaid in red coral, and one flower and one bud are inlaid in white coral, the rest are in gold. On the trunk are three characters in silver: chi-yo-wa (one thousand ages), which could be a girl's name. The size and pretty shape suggest it was made for a girl. The mikayeshi (inside of the lid) has a gyobu nashiji ground and shows gold takamakie and hirame (the flakes of gold lying on or near the surface of the lacquer) rocks with uchikomi details (hollows in the rocks filled with gold particles) and covered with grass, ferns and other small plants with red lacquer berries. On top of the rocks is a close group of three long-armed monkeys, one reaching out its right arm to grasp the moon, hence the silver mizuire (water-dropper). The inside of the lower section and the base are in gyobu nashiji (shimmering spangles using large flakes of gold); the inside is decorated with gold clouds which are continued on the the removable gyobu nashiji tray (B) around the silver water-dropper (C) which is in the shape of the crescent moon. The ink-stone (D) has gold rims; the cake of ink (E) is gilded with a deer and pine tree on one side and inscribed in blue and gold `1000 autumns illumination' on the other. The knife (F) has a carved red lacquer (tsuishu) handle and case (G), and is inscribed KIYONAGA on the blade (the name of the bladesmith). The brush (H) is in a bamboo case (I). The rims of the lid and lower section are both cut away on two sides and edged in pewter. The suzuri-bako fits into a protective wooden box with purple ribbon ties and a purple silk square lining.


History note: Bought in Tokyo 1912

Measurements and weight

Height: 4.4 cm
Length: 23.7 cm
Width: 22.2 cm

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Bequeathed (1947) by Raphael, Oscar C.


Edo Period (1615-1868)
18th Century, Mid#
Circa 1730 - 1760


Imitation of Yekisui style. See the inventory of lacquer from the Raphael Collection, No.9.

Components of the work

Inlay composed of coral ( red and white)
Decoration composed of gilt
Brush Case composed of bamboo
Box composed of wood (plant material)
Box Lining composed of silk (textile)
Rims composed of pewter

Materials used in production


Techniques used in production

Lacquering : Writing box, lacquer, with pewter rims, gyobu nashiji ground (nashiji using large flakes of gold placed individually rather than sprinkled) decorated in takamakie (high-relief sprinkled design), hirame (flakes of gold lying on or near the surface of the lacquer) with uchikomi details (hollows filled with gold particles)

Inscription or legends present

Inscription present: circular white removable label, 9 on reverse

  • Text: 'O.3-1947. Raphael Bequest 1941' and '9'
  • Method of creation: Inscribed in blue ink
  • Type: Label

Inscription present: small circular white label

  • Text: 9
  • Location: Stuck on the ink stone
  • Method of creation: Inscribed in black ink
  • Type: Label

Identification numbers

Accession number: O.3 & A-I-1947
Primary reference Number: 24319
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Wednesday 15 July 2020 Last processed: Friday 8 December 2023

Associated departments & institutions

Owner or interested party: The Fitzwilliam Museum
Associated department: Applied Arts

Citation for print

This record can be cited in the Harvard Bibliographic style using the text below:

The Fitzwilliam Museum (2024) "Box" Web page available at: Accessed: 2024-02-20 23:46:48

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{{cite web|url= |title=Box |author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2024-02-20 23:46:48|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

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