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Box with equipment for an incense game

Box with equipment for an incense game, Japan, 18th century AD


Height: 20.200 cm (box)
Width: 26.700 cm (box)
Depth: 18.400 cm (box)

Gift of Mrs H. Seymour Trower

Asia JA 1912.10-12.21

    Box with equipment for an incense game

    From Japan
    Edo period, 18th century AD

    Lacquered wood with contents of various materials

    Like the Tea Ceremony and flower arrangement, the enjoyment of incense had developed into a complex pastime in Japan by the Edo period. The various games included guessing a fragrance from as many as 2000 varieties, as well as matching fragrances and blending incenses to suggest certain moods.

    This set includes tools for cutting and arranging the incense, a set of playing-pieces with board, score-boards, and books of guessing slips which have paintings of scenes from Genji monogatari ('The Tale of Genji') on the covers. The group of small containers and the box into which everything was packed away are richly decorated with 'The Three Friends of Winter' (pine, plum and bamboo) and the triple hollyhock leaf mon (crest) of the Tokugawa family in gold makie with nashiji and gold foil.

    L. Smith, V. Harris and T. Clark, Japanese art: masterpieces in (London, The British Museum Press, 1990)


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