Title: Japanese lacquer box-Tsukiyo ni Ume Zu
The Suzuri Bako (硯箱) is a type of box in which writing instruments such as writing brushes, ink sticks, or inkstone are stored. Also, some people use it to put a small knife or calendar. The Suzuri Bako is often made from lacquered wood. The *Makie (蒔絵) and the *Raden (螺鈿) are popular ornamental techniques for this kind of item. Artisans developed various skills to decorate boxes.
The Suzuri (硯, inkstone) is stored in this Suzuri Bako. If you have the Sumi (墨, inkstick), you could use this Suzuri for Japanese calligraphy. You can also display it to enjoy as a part of the interior decoration in your room. This box is decorated with the traditional Japanese technique; it would make an elegant and luxurious atmosphere. Or, it would be a special gift for someone who enjoys calligraphy.
The theme of this Suzuribako’s design is related to plant motifs. The front side of this box’s lid depicts a moonlit night scene. We could see the moon floating in the night sky through the gaps in the clouds, and if you look closely, you could see that detailed patterns are designed on these clouds. This screen is divided between the outside and the inside by a wall, perhaps a screen or a hedge, and the Ume (梅, Japanese apricot blossom) tree grows outside the wall. Many branches extend from the thick trunk, and beautiful red and white flowers bloom. Speaking of this plant, it blooms in winter when snow still covers its tree. Therefore, Japanese people thought this flower told the arrival of spring. The same as cherry blossoms, it has been appreciated for a long time in Japan. People enjoy its adorable petal shape and scent, and gracefully branched tree and compose many poems. As it comes out in the cold season, it symbolizes the power of perseverance and vitality. The background around the Ume tree is colored with black lacquer coated with fine particles, probably gold, and each of these particles appears to represent snow. It seems to complement the plum blossoms, which show their beautiful appearance during winter.
On the other hand, another plant is designed on the back of the lid, and based on the shape of the fruit, it is probably the Uri (瓜, oriental melon). Here, we would like to introduce a trivia of the Hisago (瓢, gourd-generally called Hyoutan in Japanese) pattern. A gourd is a climbing annual plant of the Cucurbitaceae family. Since ancient times, Japanese people have appreciated gourd designs as an auspicious motif. For example, a Hisago is written as “瓢,” which can also be read as “Hyou.” Therefore, three Hisagos were considered the San-Byoushi (三拍子, triple time, 拍子 can also be pronounced as Hyoushi). And people compared six Hisagos to Mubyou Sokusai (無病息災, be in perfect health). It is because the word “病 (Byou)” has the same pronunciation as “瓢 (it also can be read as Byou).” Also, the Hisago pattern represents success in business and the prosperity of descendants as this plant produces lots of fruits. These meanings tell you how Japanese people love this design based on its acting superstitiously for good luck.
Now let’s briefly touch on an example of the relationship between the Hisago motif and the Samurai culture. Toyotomi Hideyoshi (豊臣 秀吉, 1537-1598) is one of the most famous Samurais during the Warring States period (1467-1615). According to a theory, his Umajirushi (馬印, a massive flag raised near the general Samurai on the battlefield) was the Senari-Byoutan (千成瓢箪). He was given the Hisago motif for his Umajirushi from Oda Nobunaga (織田 信長, 1534-1582). It is said he added gourds every time he won the battles. We imagine this plant motif has been treated as an auspicious symbol and cherished among Samurai warriors. In this way, this plant has a deep relationship with the Samurai culture. In this Suzuri Bako, this botanical motif is also used in the water jug (or ink holder) container. It might have been adopted in these places because it was considered to be auspicious, as mentioned above.
*Makie……A typical Japanese lacquer art technique developed uniquely in Japan for about 1200 years. Firstly, it needs to draw a picture with lacquer on the surface with a thin brush. Next, sprinkle the gold powder from above to show the pattern before the lacquer hardens. This technique makes a gorgeous and elegant look to works.
*Raden…… It is a kind of decorative technique that is often used for traditional craftworks. It uses the pearl part of seashells and puts it into the engraved surface of lacquer or wood. Thanks to its iridescent luster, it gives a luxurious look to works.
*As this item is an antique, please check each photo and ensure its condition.
Samurai Museum is located in Tokyo, Japan, exhibiting antique artifacts related to the Samurai history. Samurai Museum Shop is the place for those who are interested in Japanese culture and craftsmanship. We deal with antique Samurai swords/armor, traditional crafts made in Japan and so on.
We accept payment through Stripe (Credit card), PayPal, Apple Pay or ChromePay, all of which are secure payment methods. Also, you don’t need to make an account on Stripe for the checkout. If you prefer other payment method, please contact us. You may either pay in JPY, USD, AUD, CAD, EUR, CHF or GBP. The price is set in Japanese Yen. Prices in other currencies are automatically calculated based on the latest exchange rate.
We normally ship via EMS (Express Mail Service) provided by Japan Post. It usually takes at least 5-14 days to deliver the package after you place an order.
We offer Free International Shipping as long as we can ship your order by EMS. If you prefer other shipping carriers, please contact us.
We will inform you of the order’s tracking number via email. Please make sure you fill out your valid email address correctly.
*If you like to make sure if EMS shipping is available to your country, please contact us.
【Antique Japanese item and Export process】
After receiving the full payment from you, we will apply for its export permit from the Board of Education to legally export the item to other countries. It normally takes around 2 to 4 weeks to receive this permit. And we would like you to expect at least 1.0 – 1.5 months for your order to arrive at your given address after you ordered.
【How to make sure the condition】
Please keep in mind that what you are going to purchase is an antique item. We uploaded high resolution photos for you to check its condition thoroughly. If you like to see more photos with different angles, please feel free to contact us. We will be happy to send them to you so that you can make informed decision.
It is essential for us to know that you are happy with your choice of antique item and we are prepared to use the best of our ability to serve you.
Would you like see some more Antique items for sale? Please check the link below. We hope you can find your favorite item.