VIRTUAL COLLECTION OF ASIAN MASTERPIECES

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Inro "Cranes and trees"
RKM 533-1911
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Why this is a
Masterpiece

This inro is of the highest quality and represents masterly skillful handicraft. It should therefore be seen as a masterpiece in the museum’s collection of Japanese handicraft. Per Dahlström, Curator, Röhsska Museum

History of the Object
Before western clothing became fashionable, the Japanese wore the kimono. Because the kimono lacked pockets, necessities such as purses and smoking materials were often hung from a cord around the kimono’s sash, from which a small lacquered wooden storage box called an inro was also hung. It was used to carry medicaments from the beginning of the seventeenth century, and later the inro became an expensive fashion accessory and status symbol worn by feudal overlords, samurai and merchants. The production of inros was a handicraft carried out in highly-specialized workshops where master lacquerers experimented with new designs, decorations and materials. One popular decorative subject was the opposing forces of Yin and Yang depicted for example as an open or closed flower, or two birds, one with an open beak and the other with the beak closed. In Chinese medicine, every plant is either Yin or Yang, and as the inro was often used to carry medicaments, this symbolism was a natural choice.

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Type
Decorative Art 
Materials
Gold embellishments in relief and gold leaf on black lacquer 
Measurements
Width 6 cm  
Creator name
unknown 
Creator date
unknown 
Where it was made
Japan 
Geography
Japan 
Time period
AD 19th century ~ AD 19th century 
Creation date
19th Century 
Function
Box 
Acquisition
Purchased 1911 at Rex & Co, Berlin 
Copyright
The Röhsska Museum 
Acknowledgements
 
Owner
The Röhsska Museum 
Museum
The Röhsska Museum, of Design, Fashion and Decorative Arts 
Credit line
 

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