The care and quality of the craftsmanship lavished on a box such as this is a testament to the high esteem in which the objects and utensils for writing and painting are held in both Japan and China. The practice of using a smooth dark stone moistened with water for rubbing and preparing the solid ink was introduced from China; however the elaborate box with its partitions for brushes, ink sticks and a water dropper is more in keeping with the Japanese tradition. The lid is ornamented with a design of pine tree with pomegranate; the inside with a stylised fishing net and bird pattern. The technique of 'nashiji' involves small flakes of gold of irregular shape and varying sizes being set in an almost random pattern in a bed of wet lacquer. 'Takamaki-e' is a technique in which the design is built up in relief and modelled in a mixture of lacquer and charcoal or clay dust.
Art Gallery Handbook, 1999. pg. 272.
Writing box suzuribako (containing inkstone and water dropper)
Inkstone case Suzuribako
Matsu tachibana maki-e hira suzuri
Place where the work was made
lacquered wood, decorated in nashiji and gold "takamaki-e", inlaid with silver and gold foil
4.3 x 23.0 x 21.3 cm :
a - box; 3.6 x 22.2 x 20.4 cm
b - lid; 2.4 x 23 x 21.3 cm
c - inkstone tray; 21.4 x 9.9 cm
d - inside box; 1.8 x 21.4 x 9.7 cm
Signature & date
Not signed. Not dated.
Gift of Mr Klaus Naumann 1989
Not on display
Where the work was made
Shown in 2 exhibitions
Referenced in 5 publications
Bruce James, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Asian Collection: East Asia', pg. 246-287, Sydney, 1999, 272 (colour illus.).
Art of the Brush - Chinese & Japanese painting calligraphy, Sydney, 1995, 23.
Asian Collection Handbook, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'Japanese Art', pg. 70-82, Sydney, 1990, 78 (colour illus.).
The Asian Collections Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'The World of Samurai Culture', Sydney, 2003, 220 (colour illus.).
Art speaks Japanese: Japanese language education kit from the collection of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 2007, colour illus.. card no. 04