Fire Screen with Shell-Matching Game

Fire Screen with Shell-Matching Game


c. 1870-80

Gilt wood frame with embroidered silk gift cover mounted as a panel

Overall: 135.9 x 86.4 x 40.6 cm (53 1/2 x 34 x 16 in.)

Dudley P. Allen Fund 2007.182



This screen shielded sitters from the heat of a fireplace. The panel incorporates a Japanese cloth gift cover (fukusa), demonstrating the 19th-century fashion in France for Japanese aesthetics. The French frame is carved to resemble bamboo. In Japan, people traditionally draped fukusa over gifts, selecting designs relevant to the occasion. The lids of the hexagonal lacquer game-piece boxes have a crane in clouds and a tortoise in waves, both symbols of longevity. Wedding gift sets often included shell-matching games like the one depicted here. Only the two halves of a specific clamshell can be perfectly matched; game players used the shells’ interior paintings as clues. Games were sometimes painted with episodes from literature, such as the Tale of Genji.

See also

Contact us

The information about this object, including provenance information, is based on historic information and may not be currently accurate or complete. Research on objects is an ongoing process, but the information about this object may not reflect the most current information available to CMA. If you notice a mistake or have additional information about this object, please email

To request more information about this object, study images, or bibliography, contact the Ingalls Library Reference Desk.

Request a digital file from Image Services that is not available through CC0, a detail image, or any image with a color bar. If you have questions about requesting an image, please email