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Currently shown

Cosmetic Box (tebako)

Location

JAPAN

Era

Edo period (1615-1868)

Title

Cosmetic Box (tebako)

Date

About 1800-1850

Materials

Maki-e lacquer on wood, pewter

Dimensions

9 x 19 x 22.8 cm

Credits

Gift of F. Gerald Robinson, inv. 1962.Ee.3

Collection

Archeology and World Cultures

The scenes on this cosmetic box (tebako) are from The Tale of Genji (Genji Monogatari), an early eleventh-century romantic novel by the Heian court lady Murasaki Shikibu. The tale recounts the fictional exploits of Prince Genji, the son of an emperor. A masterpiece of Japanese literature, the novel inspired generations of artists, including lacquer masters. The scenes depicted here are from one of the episodes where Genji orders two Chinese-style pleasure boats to be built for ladies of the court so that they may savour the beauty of nature in springtime. The cover shows ladies on a phoenix boat, while the interior tray shows them on a dragon boat.

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