Past Exhibitions

Lacquered Writing Boxes and Furnishings
April 21, 2015 - May 31, 2015

In China, where the culture of ink painting and calligraphy originated, decorative ink or inkstones by themselves tended to be objects of appreciation, but in Japan the prevailing custom was to gather brushes, ink, inkstone, water container, and gimlet or small ornamental knife for cutting paper all in one box and display it on a shelf. This custom relates to the characteristics of Japanese homes, in which single rooms were used for a wide variety of purposes. Not only writing utensils but all sorts of other items were stored in boxes (or small chests or cabinets) and brought out when needed. In the context of this tradition, writing boxes were the most essential of items for educated people, and were beautifully decorated, reflecting the intellect and sensibilities of their owners. These objects, including boxes to hold writing paper, long paper for inscribing poems, colored paper, or letters; small bookcases; and paintboxes, were of practical use and also items of everyday aesthetic appreciation for the people of centuries past.

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