Sūtra box with design of lotus flowers


Sūtra box with design of lotus flowers

Craft work / Nara

Heian period, 12th century

Hide, lacquered with makie decoration

L 31.8, W 17.6, H 12.1


Formerly kept in Jingū-ji temple, Fukui


The structure of this sutra case was made of leather which was then coated with layers of lacquer. The surface of the lid and the four sides of the case are decorated with sprinkled gold dust, and lotus flowers and vines are depicted over it. The reverse side of the lid is decorated with sprinkled gold dust, too, although more sparsely, and butterflies of various poses are described on it. Several kinds of gold dust and aokin (alloy of gold and silver) dust were arranged effectively to illustrate the flowers, vines and butterflies gracefully. The metallic fittings for braids, attached to both sides of the case, are in the shape of hōsōge flowers with four petals. These fittings reflect the delicate sense prevailing at the time when this case was made.
This type of lacquered cases using leather for the case structure was popular during the Nara and the early Heian periods, which is proved by the forty similar objects in the Shōsō-in treasure house and other examples in Tō-ji temple, but the sutra case introduced in this article is probably the single extant example made during the late Heian period. It had originally been kept in Jingū-ji temple in Fukui Prefecture.

Masterpieces of Nara National Museum. Nara National Museum, 1993, pp.110-111, no.86.

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