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Pillow Box




Edo period (1615-1868)


Pillow Box


About 1750-1850


Maki-e lacquer on wood


4.5 x 13.7 x 9.5 cm


Gift of F. Gerald Robinson, inv. 1962.Ee.1a-b


Archeology and World Cultures

Pillow boxes were used to support the head and neck while sleeping. A small cushion was usually laid on the top. The mythical creature on the cover of this box is called a baku. With the body of a lion, the tail of an ox and the head, trunk and tusks of an elephant, it is said to devour bad dreams, which is why it often appeared on pillow boxes. The exterior of this box is covered with hexagonal tortoiseshell patterns (kikko-mon) filled with a stylized flower motif (karahana). Sprays of camellia blossoms, pine bows and a crest of crossed feathers enhance the sides. The elaborate decoration suggests that the box belonged to a person of high-rank.

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