Inrō with Portuguese Figures

Period: Edo period (1615–1868)

Date: late 18th–early 19th century

Culture: Japan

Medium: Four cases; lacquered wood with gold hiramaki-e and cut-out gold foil application on black ground
Netsuke: dog; ivory
Ojime: antler bead

Dimensions: H. 3 3/4 in. (9.5 cm); W. 2 1/8 in. (5.4 cm); D. 1 1/8 in. (2.9 cm)

Classification: Inrō

Credit Line: The Harry G. C. Packard Collection of Asian Art, Gift of Harry G. C. Packard, and Purchase, Fletcher, Rogers, Harris Brisbane Dick, and Louis V. Bell Funds, Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, and The Annenberg Fund Inc. Gift, 1975

Accession Number: 1975.268.178


The mutual fascination with which the Japanese and Europeans regarded each other after their initial contacts in the late sixteenth century was expressed in part by Japanese art objects that incorporated images of Westerners as part of the ornamentation. This inro, which was worn suspended from the waist and used to hold medicines and other small items, is decorated with the images of three Portuguese men, dressed in their distinctive pantaloons and jackets with large, ruffled collars.