Incense played a significant part in the culture of the aristocracy and was adopted by the samurai class. Fragrant woods were imported at great expense from Southeast Asia, where they had been buried for many years to 'mature'. This box was made to store different types of incense for the incense game, in which participants are challenged to tell the different types of incense, each names with a poetic reference. Intricately decorated with various lacquer techniques, it features a profusion of flowers of the four seasons in a three-dimensional setting with the top as a trellis covered with wisteria.
The Asian Collections, AGNSW, 2003, pg.221.
The box is decorated with flowers of four seasons and its top bears a wisteria trellis. The interior of the door is decorated with butterflies. The tray in the top drawer has designs of cherry blossoms and a tent. The six small boxes in the central drawer have designs of persimmons, grapes, peaches, gourds, citrus fruits, and loquats, respectively. The three small boxes in the bottom drawer are decorated with gourds, ginkgo, and nandins respectively.
Place where the work was made
Meiji period 1868 - 1912 → Japan
late 19th century
"maki-e" lacquer on wood, inlaid mother-of-pearl
17.8 x 18.9 x 12.8 cm :
a - box; 11.4 x 17.9 x 12.6 cm
b - stand; 5.4 x 18.9 x 12.8 cm
Signature & date
Not signed. Not dated.
Where the work was made
Shown in 2 exhibitions
Referenced in 4 publications
Jackie Menzies and Edmund Capon, Asian Collection Handbook, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'Japanese Art', pg. 70-82, Sydney, 1990, 80 (colour illus.), 81 (colour illus.).
AJIOKA Chiaki (Curator), Heroes and villains: from Japan's floating world, Sydney, May 2001, 7. cat.no. 2.10
Jackie Menzies (Editor), The Asian Collections Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'The World of Samurai Culture', Sydney, 2003, 221 (colour illus.).
Public Programmes Department, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Adventures in Asia. An education kit for the Asian gallery, Sydney, 2003, 12 (colour illus.). card no.12