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Kenzan I (Ogata Kenzan)

Incense or Pasty Ink Box

Artist

Kenzan I (Ogata Kenzan)
Kyoto 1663 – Edo (now Tokyo) 1743

Title

Incense or Pasty Ink Box

Date

About 1705

Materials

Stoneware, painted decoration in underglaze blue and polychrome enamel

Dimensions

3.3 x 12.7 cm

Credits

Gift of Joseph-Arthur Simard, inv. 1960.Ee.585

Collection

Archeology and World Cultures

Boxes by Ogata Kenzan often have unconventional shapes and ambitious iconographic and decorative programs. Influenced by his elder brother, Kōrin, Kenzan illustrated a variety of episodes from classical Japanese texts. The scene on this box derives from Fujiwara no Teika’s early thirteenth-century poems on the seasons in which a bird and a flower represent each of the twelve months: a blooming deutzia shrub is shown next to a wooden fence on which little cuckoos perch. A winding stream runs alongside, and gold clouds flow above, continuing into the box. Deuzia blossoms and cuckoos are longstanding symbols of early summer that go back to the eighth century. This box was used as a container either for incense pellets or, more likely, for seal ink.

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