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Writing Box (Suzuribako) with the “First Song” (Hatsune) Chapter from the Tale of Genji

初音蒔絵硯箱

early 1900s
Overall: 22.8 x 26.7 cm (9 x 10 1/2 in.)
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Location: not on view

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Description

The design of this box was inspired by an object in the 1639 lacquer wedding set of Chiyohime, the daughter of the shogun (ruler). Information about the set became available in the Meiji period, leading some lacquer artists to emulate its designs. This box features a scene from the chapter “First Song” (Hatsune) of the Tale of Genji, in which Prince Genji and his love Murasaki enjoy her garden. It incorporates the written characters for “first” (初, hatsu) and “sound” (音, ne), indicating the first song of the warbler in spring, associated with the new year—the water dropper for mixing the ink is in the shape of this bird.
Writing Box (Suzuribako) with the “First Song” (Hatsune) Chapter from the Tale of Genji

Writing Box (Suzuribako) with the “First Song” (Hatsune) Chapter from the Tale of Genji

early 1900s

Japan, Meiji period (1868–1912)

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