VIRTUAL COLLECTION OF ASIAN MASTERPIECES

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Toiletry Case with Cart Wheels in Stream
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Why this is a
Masterpiece

A representative masterpiece of lacquerware from the Heian period (794-1185), this exquisite toiletry case (J. tebako) is a relatively small example. The lid fits over the body of the box. The exterior design comprises a ground of irregularly-shaped gold particles sprinkled densely on black lacquer, on which are depicted the flowing waters and the soaking cart wheels are represented with gold in aogin togidashi makie and mother-of-pearl inlay (J. raden). For the lacquer technique of togidashi makie, metal powder such as gold or silver is sprinkled on a design executed in lacquer upon which an additional coat of lacquer is applied. After hardening, the entire surface is polished to expose the design. Aogin, a blue-tinted gold color, is a mixture of gold and silver that produces a striking, variable hue depending on the light. Raden is a technique in which materials such as mother-of-pearl are cut into a design and then applied to an object covered with lacquer. The openwork silver fittings on the side of the case are in the same ox-wheel design, and the interior of the box and lid are covered with flying birds and floral motifs in togidashi makie.

History of the Object
The theme of the design of cart wheels in a stream reflects the Heian practice of soaking the wheels of ox carts in water to prevent them from drying out and cracking. A popular theme during the Heian period, this design can also be found on mirrors and the embellished paper used for the decorated sutra of scrolls.

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Type
Decorative Art 
Materials
lacquered wood, 1 
Measurements
Width 30.6cm Height 13.5cm Length 22.4cm  
Creator name
Unknown 
Creator date
Unknown 
Where it was made
Japan 
Geography
Japan 
Time period
AD 12th century ~ AD 12th century 
Creation date
12th Century; Heian Period 
Function
Toiletry Case 
Acquisition
It is the current policy of the Tokyo National Museum not to publish the acquisition history of its collection on the Internet. 
Copyright
 
Acknowledgements
National treasure 
Owner
Tokyo National Museum 
Museum
Tokyo National Museum 
Credit line
Tokyo National Museum 

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