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Open Access

Gold Lacquer Writing Box with Cranes

Artist: Unknown Japanese Artist Primary
19th century
Dimensions: 1.5 x 8.75 x 8.25 in. (3.81 x 22.23 x 20.96 cm)
Object Type: Furnishings & Equipment
Creation Place: Asia, Japan
Medium and Support: Black lacquer, gold and silver foil details
Credit Line: Partial Gift of Erik Thomsen Gallery and 2016 Museum Patron's Circle Purchase (2016.23.1)
Accession Number: 2016.23.01
On View: Bellarmine Hall Galleries

The high esteem accorded to the culture of writing in Japan can be seen in the number of surviving exquisitely-produced suzuribako. These “inkstone boxes” held writing implements, including the inkstone, or suzuri. The writer would grind an ink stick and then blend it with water inside the suzuri to reach a desired consistency of ink. The lacquered surface of the suzuribako, decorated with gold, was not only aesthetically pleasing but also auspicious; the cranes depicted on the lid of this box, for example, were signs of good luck as they were believed to live for one thousand years.


Fairfield University Art Museum, Fairfield, Connecticut, Gifts of Gold: The Art of Japanese Lacquer Boxes, January 17-May 15, 2020


Click a term to view other artwork with the same keyword

writing equipment
Equipment used for writing, typically but not always reserved for pens and other equipment for writing in longhand rather than by mechanical means.
Furnishings and Equipment
The Furnishings and Equipment hierarchy contains terms for objects that are primarily movable that provide comfort, convenience, or protection in dwellings, places or business, or other public or private spaces. They may be useful or ornamental and may be used in indoor or outdoor spaces. Regarding other Hierarchies: Terms for objects with the primary purpose of storage receptacles or other forms of container (e.g., "candle boxes," "footlockers") are in the Containers hierarchy.
public domain
Land owned and controlled by the state or federal government. Also, the status of publications, products, and processes that are not protected under patent or copyright.
Refers to the period and style that developed from the unification of Japan in 1600 until the end of the shogunal dynasty in 1868. During this period, economic expansion encouraged the rise of an educated merchant class who created their own forms of literature and theater as well as new schools of painting and woodblock printing. A wide diversity of pictorial subjects and styles developed during this period and many 19th century Western artists were influenced by them.

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