21.5 x 1.9cm:
a - case; 2.5 x 16.2 x 1.9cm
b - lid; 2 x 9.5 x 1.4cm
Tobacco was introduced to Japan by the Portuguese in the 17th century. When the Japanese government tried to curtail its use by official bans, it was smuggled into the country under the name of "life prolinging tea". The government eventually relented and by the late Edo tobacco smoking was a pastime widespread in Japan.
The accoutrements of smoking, particularly the tobacco pouchs, pipes and pipe cases, were a common feature of male dress in Edo period Japan, and much skill and wit was lavished on their decoration.
The pipe case is decorated in a spare and understated manner with sacred Chinese 'lingzhi' fungus of immortality above.
Asian Art Dept., AGNSW, November 1988.