Writing-box (suzuribako)

From Japan
Muromachi period, 16th century AD

Black lacquer with gold and silver makie and takamakie

The straight bevelled edges and tin rims on the base and rim are common features of the makie wares from the Muromachi period (AD 1333-1568). Poems, or references to poems were also commonly included in the design during this period.

Seven characters are scattered across the surface of the lid of this writing-box. Starting bottom right they read: tama, kushi, ge, futa, mino, ni and yuru. These are references to the poem by Onaka Tomi Sukehiro in volume 9 of the anthology Kinyō Waka Shū (AD 1127). The complete poem can be translated: ‘The bejewelled thickets by the sea of Futamigaura bay, the clusters of pines look like makie lacquer'. The shrine at Futamigaura, near Ise, is one of the holiest shrines of the Shintō religion. Its torii gateway overlooks the sea where the famous 'twin rocks' are situated.

Find in the collection online

More information


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


Length: 24.500 cm
Width: 22.200 cm
Depth: 5.000 cm

Museum number

Asia JA 1974.5-13.13.a, b


Gift of Sir Harry and Lady Gardner


Find in the collection online

Search highlights

There are over 4,000 highlight objects to explore