Stationery Box in Kōdaiji style

Period: Momoyama period (1573–1615)

Date: early 17th century

Culture: Japan

Medium: Gold- and silver-foil inlay, gold maki-e, on lacquered wood

Dimensions: H. 8 1/4 in. (21 cm); W. 17 15/16 in. (45.6 cm)

Classification: Lacquer

Credit Line: Purchase, Lila Acheson Wallace Gift, 1987

Accession Number: 1987.82a, b


The bold combination of naturalistic landscape designs and scattered paulownia crests on contrasting diagonal fields divided by a zigzag border is characteristic of a distinctive style of Momoyama-period lacquer decoration known as Kōdaiji, which was current from the 1580s through the early seventeenth century. The style is associated with the military potentate Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1536–1598) and named for the Kōdaiji temple, where his memorial shrine was built in 1616. The shrine's lacquered interior, along with some thirty lacquer objects of personal use that are preserved there, are similarly decorated with naturalistic designs, mainly of autumn grasses, which are often combined with scattered paulownia crests, the personal emblem of the Toyotomi family. On this box the landscape motifs of a snow-covered willow by a bridge and a wisteria-wrapped pine tree are unusual, as is the use of gold- and silver-foil inlay.