Writing box

Edo Period, circa 1700

25.2 x 23.2 x 4.5 cm

Takamaki-e and nashiji lacquer; pewter rims


This rare suzuribako is decorated in takamaki-e with a domestic cat on the outside of the cover and scattered fans of gunbai shape on the interior. 

Cats on lacquerware are rather unusual. The artist who decorated this suzuribako must have been working on a particular commission, as he converted the far more usual motif of a tiger to a portrait of a domestic cat, which yet has tiger-like fur. The ultimate result is remarkable: the joy of cat-watching translated into maki-e. 

The box's fairly unusual inverted corners (irizumi) also indicate that it is a special object, as this type of finish required more time and attention from the craftsman than the normal right-angled ones. 

Cats most likely arrived in Japan on Chinese ships in the sixth century. On the ships, they were mousers, and Japan was pleased to deploy the rodent-killers on farms and temples. The first pet cats were rare. They were exclusively retained and carefully cherished by the elite and hence depicted in early art as living in the

Price: 14,500 €

Inventory Nr: 1784

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