Box with Design of Pine, Bamboo, and Cherry Blossom

Period: Edo period (1615–1868)

Date: 19th century

Culture: Japan

Medium: Sprinkled gold on lacquer (maki-e)

Dimensions: H. 4 3/8 in. (11.1 cm); W. 4 3/4 in. (12.1 cm); L. 5 1/2 in. (14 cm)

Classification: Lacquer

Credit Line: Frederick C. Hewitt Fund, 1910

Accession Number: 10.7.15


This box for storing incense wood includes an inner tray and six small incense containers as well as wrapping papers for the aloe incense wood. The small boxes are decorated with patterns referring to chapters of the Tale of Genji. The decoration is executed in a variety of maki-e (decoration of gold and/or silver sprinkled powder) techniques including relief, gradation-sprinkling, line drawing, needle drawing, applied gold and silver foil, geometric gold foil cuttings, carving with gold or silver foil application, and silver inlay.
Incense boxes such as this were part of a provincial lord's (daimyô) wedding trousseau, which was taken as part of the dowry to the groom's estate. This incense box belongs to a maki-e decorated daimyô wedding trousseau, consisting of thirty-one pieces depicting auspicious symbols representing longevity and good fortune. The Shimazu family, lords of Satsuma Province in Kyushu, ordered the exquisite, traditional trousseau most likely for Taka-hime, who was married to Matsudaira Sadakazu, lord of Kuwana, around 1830.