Incense Cabinet

Historical period(s)
Edo period or Meiji era, 19th century
Lacquer on wood with gold and silver
H x W x D: 20.6 x 16.8 x 24.5 cm (8 1/8 x 6 5/8 x 9 5/8 in)
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view
Furniture and Furnishing, Lacquer


Edo period (1615 - 1868), Japan, landscape, Meiji era (1868 - 1912), punching
Provenance research underway.

This small portable cabinet may have stored incense woods and utensils used in games in which competitors would try to identify different mixtures of incense.  All surfaces of the cabinet, including the hidden sides of the drawers, are decorated with sprinkled gold and silver over lacquer, a technique known as maki-e. Nuances of color are produced by the underlying lacquer: silver dust over red lacquer produces a lavender tone; silver dust over black lacquer produces a blue tone. The background is covered with gold powder embedded in lacquer and burnished to a smooth finish that appears to be solid gold. Traditional lacquer techniques reached a peak of technical quality and diversity during the nineteenth century.

Published References
  • Ann Yonemura. Japanese Lacquer. Washington, 1979. cat. 13, p. 28.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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