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Writing Box with Pontoon Bridge Design in Maki-e Lacquer by Hon'ami Koetsu (Funabashi Maki-e Suzuribako)
The Magic of Japanese Masterpieces
12m 11s

Broadcast on July 13, 2017
Available until March 31, 2029

A suzuribako is a box for holding writing instruments. Such boxes were also used as room ornaments and made as exquisite craftworks for this purpose. This piece from the early seventeenth century bears the design of a pontoon bridge on its high, arching lid. The bold design represented a major new departure from the maki-e (patterning with gold or silver dust on lacquer) tradition that had already gone back very many years. Its creator, Hon’ami Koetsu, produced joint works in many fields with a wide range of craftsmen and artists. The Shogun, Tokugawa Ieyasu, granted him land on the outskirts of Kyoto where he built a village of craftsmen. A century later, a member of that same family, the artist Ogata Korin, was greatly inspired by Koetsu and changed the course of Japanese art history.

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