We acknowledge the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the Country on which the Art Gallery of NSW stands.

🛈 Find out what you need to know before visiting


Writing box (suzuribako) with design of pine tree and citrus

17th century


Unknown Artist

  • Details

    Other Titles
    Writing box suzuribako (containing inkstone and water dropper)
    Inkstone case Suzuribako
    Alternative title
    Matsu tachibana maki-e hira suzuri
    Place where the work was made
    Edo (Tokugawa) period 1615 - 1868 → Japan
    17th century
    Media category
    Materials used
    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
    Accession number

    Reproduction requests

  • About

    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.

  • Places

    Where the work was made


  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 2 exhibitions

    • Art of the brush, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 23 Sep 1995–12 Nov 1995

    • Glorious, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 27 May 2017–06 Jan 2019

  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 5 publications