This cosmetic box (tebako) is decorated with autumnal grasses and flowers on the exterior faces and with the moon disappearing into clouds on the interior tray, well-known references to the Musashi plain around Edo. Since the early tenth century, the literati had embraced idyllic autumnal scenery as a metaphor for love, the transient nature of life and the isolation of man. The stylized motifs are applied in maki-e, a technique in which gold and silver powder is sprinkled onto the lacquered surface while it is still wet. Lacquer, a natural polymer deriving from the resinous sap of the Asian sumac tree (rhus verniciflua), was mastered in Japan during the Nara period (710-794). To achieve the shiny, waterproof surface, artisans applied up to 30 coats of the substance, each of which required a long drying period. Time-consuming and costly, the process was limited to objects destined for the court and the wealthy. Feudal lords (daimyō) and shoguns commissioned lacquerware lavishly decorated with maki-e and mother-of-pearl motifs as a symbol of power. Lacquerware achieved its zenith with the Rimpa school under the patronage of Edo’s merchant class as it gained economic strength.