Writing Box (Suzuribako) with Phoenix in Paulownia


late 1500s
Location: not on view
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In contrast to the bright, celebratory motifs on the exterior, the interior of the box invites a more reflective mood with its autumn moonlit sky over chrysanthemums.


The only place the mythical phoenix will perch is in the paulownia tree. Along with the dragon, the bird is a symbol of imperial power in East Asia. This box––a container for an inkstone, brushes, and ink––is both functional and lavish, its dramatic effects achieved with a pear-skin ground decoration (nashiji) and sprinkled powder decoration in high relief (takamaki-e).
Writing Box (Suzuribako) with Phoenix in Paulownia

Writing Box (Suzuribako) with Phoenix in Paulownia

late 1500s

Japan, Momoyama period (1573-1615)

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