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


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