Incense box or seal ink container with design of crane and chrysanthemums for the tenth month

Artist: Ogata Kenzan (1663-1743) Narutaki workshop (active 1699-1712)
Historical period(s)
Edo period, 1699-1712
Stoneware with white slip, cobalt, and iron pigments under transparent glaze, and enamels over glaze
H x W: 3 x 11.7 cm (1 3/16 x 4 5/8 in)
Japan, Kyoto prefecture, Kyoto
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view
Ceramic, Container

Incense box (kogo) or seal ink container

crane, Edo period (1615 - 1868), incense, Japan

Ikeda Seisuke (1839-1900), Kyoto [1]

To 1900
Bunkio Matsuki (1867-1940), Boston, to 1900 [2]

From 1900 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from Bunkio Matsuki in 1900 [3]

From 1920
Freer Gallery of Art, gift of Charles Lang Freer in 1920 [4]


[1] According to Curatorial Remark 6, an Envelope File note, H.E. Buckman, 1964, in the object record, which states: "Formerly in Ikeda collection." See also, Curatorial Remark 1 and Curatorial Remark 7, L.A. Cort, March 1992, in the object record.

[2] See Original Pottery List, L. 769, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives.

[3] See note 2.

[4] The original deed of Charles Lang Freer's gift was signed in 1906. The collection was received in 1920 upon the completion of the Freer Gallery.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

Ikeda Seisuke 1839-1900
Charles Lang Freer 1854-1919
Bunkio Matsuki (C.L. Freer source) 1867-1940


With its design of crane and chrysanthemums, this shallow box is a miniature painting made to adorn the desk or reception room of a wealthy patron. The ground design simulates the decorated paper favored for painting or calligraphy, but using a potter's materials-gold enamel (gold power mixed with borax and animal-hide glue) and cobalt-blue pigment. The sumptuous streaked decoration continues on the inside of the box.

Published References
  • Richard L. Wilson, Ogasawara Saeko. Kenzanyaki Nyumon [Introduction to Kenzan Ceramics]. Tokyo. pl. 4.
  • Richard L. Wilson. The Potter's Brush: The Kenzan Style in Japanese Ceramics. Exh. cat. Washington. p. 86, fig. 18.
  • Louise Allison Cort. The Kenzan Style in Japanese Ceramics. Watertown, Massachusetts, Autumn 2002. p. 166.
  • Hugo Munsterberg. The Ceramic Art of Japan: A Handbook for Collectors., 1st ed. Rutland, Vermont and Tokyo. p. 204, pl. 135.
  • Miho Museum. Kenzan: A World of Quietly Refined Elegance. Exh. cat. Shiga. p. 240.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
SI Usage Statement

Usage Conditions Apply

There are restrictions for re-using this image. For more information, visit the Smithsonian's Terms of Use page.

The information presented on this website may be revised and updated at any time as ongoing research progresses or as otherwise warranted. Pending any such revisions and updates, information on this site may be incomplete or inaccurate or may contain typographical errors. Neither the Smithsonian nor its regents, officers, employees, or agents make any representations about the accuracy, reliability, completeness, or timeliness of the information on the site. Use this site and the information provided on it subject to your own judgment. The Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery welcome information that would augment or clarify the ownership history of objects in their collections.