Handscroll case with maple tree design

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Historical period(s)
Momoyama or Edo period, early 17th century
Lacquer, gold
H x W: 7.3 x 37.8 cm (2 7/8 x 14 7/8 in)
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Handscroll case

Edo period (1615 - 1868), Japan, maple tree, Momoyama period (1573 - 1615)
Provenance research underway.

Lacquer sap drawn from the tree, Rhus verniciflua, was used in East Asia as a protective and decorative coating for objects made of porous materials such as wood. The waterproof, inert film formed by cured lacquer was especially desirable for storage containers for fragile items such as scrolls of calligraphy or painting. As an appropriate honor for a cherished work of art, a costly lacquer box decorated with gold was often ordered to house the object itself, and it was placed in turn in additional wooden boxes as a safeguard againse fire or other disasters.

This box is decorated with a design of a maple tree in autumn, depicted with gold sprinkled on designs drawn in lacquer, the technique known as maki-e.

Published References
  • Ann Yonemura. Japanese Lacquer. Washington, 1979. cat. 7, p. 19.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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