"Suzuribako" (Writing box), Design of a flock of cranes in "maki-e" lacquer


"Suzuribako" (Writing box), Design of a flock of cranes in "maki-e" lacquer

lacquer work / Edo

Edo period, 18th century


This is a box for storing writing utensils such as ink stones and brushes. Black lines are drawn on gold ground to represent flowing water, while a flock of cranes is shown flying across the surface of the lid. The cranes are layered on top of each other and all face the same direction. Closer inspection reveals subtle variances in the shape of the feathers, feet, and wings. The gold ground is created by sprinkling fine gold powder onto lacquer so it sticks to the surface, while flat pieces of lead are used to create the protruding shape of the cranes. Though the creator of this work is unknown, the audacious use of thick, roughly-cut lead pieces and the bold arrangement of motifs both imitate the style of Ogata Korin, a famous artist from the Rinpa School. Cranes were also one of Korin's signature motifs.

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