Tang dynasty or Nara period, 8th century
Prince Shōtoku purportedly owned these writing implements and used them when he wrote the first explanations in Japan of the Lotus Sutra and other Buddhist texts.
The flower-shaped stand was used to hold ink cakes. It originally had six petals, although one is now missing. The outlines and veins of the leaves that form the floral patterns on the stem and base were engraved in fine lines using a chisel.
The pot on display, which held water that was used to make the ink, is in the shape of a persimmon engraved with floral patterns and phoenixes with wings spread. It has three legs, and while small, its shape makes it feel more substantial. The edge of the lid curves upwards into four petals with a knob in the form of a jewel.
There are also three spoons on display, shaped like a lotus petal, gourd, and willow leaf, respectively, with the handles curving gently.
There is no proof that these items were made as a set, or that they were meant for the purposes described above, but they do demonstrate the brilliant metalworking techniques of the Nara period.