VIRTUAL COLLECTION OF ASIAN MASTERPIECES

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Writing Box with "Yatsuhashi Bridges" design
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Why this is a
Masterpiece

The surface of the box is covered with black lacquer and the lid and sides of the body are decorated with irises and plank bridges. Thick pieces of abalone shell are used for the iris blossoms and the leaves and reeds are represented in gold makie (metal powder or flakes sprinkled in lacquer). The plank bridges employ corroded lead strips to give a sense of texture, and the bridge posts are made of silver strips. Although flowing water is not represented on the lid or sides, the bottoms of the inside of the two tiers have a wave pattern executed in gold makie. The viewpoint of the picture on the outside of the lid is on a diagonal from above, while the continuous bridge on the four sides is composed as if seen from directly overhead; overall, however, the impression is not unnatural. By contrasting black with silver and gold, and with a composition that mines the essence of the theme, this is a bold creation expressed with Kôrin's delicate sensibility and fine precision. It is a National Treasure.

History of the Object
This writing box (J. suzuribako) is by Ogata Kôrin (1658-1716), a leading artist of the Rinpa School who carried on the approach of Hon'ami Kôetsu (1558-1637) while establishing his own individual style. The overall shape is rectangular with rounded corners. The lid fits over the body. The upper tier of this two-tier box holds an inkstone in the middle with a gold rim and a rectangular copper water dropper. The lower tier is used to hold paper. The design is derived from a scene in "Eight Bridges," chapter nine of the Tales of Ise (J. Ise monogatari), a subject much loved and often depicted by Kôrin.

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Type
Decorative Art 
Materials
lacquered wood, 1 
Measurements
Width 19.7cm Height 14.2cm Length 27.3cm  
Creator name
Ogata Kôrin 
Creator date
1658-1716 
Where it was made
Japan 
Geography
Japan 
Time period
AD 18th century ~ AD 18th century 
Creation date
18th Century; Edo period 
Function
Writing Box 
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
 
Owner
Tokyo National Museum 
Museum
Tokyo National Museum 
Credit line
Tokyo National Museum 
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