Writing box, Design of Yatsu-hashi bridge

Ogata KorinEdo period, 18th century

Tokyo National Museum

Tokyo National Museum
Tokyo, Japan

This writing box (J. suzuribako) is by Ogata Kôrin (1658-1716), a leading artist of the Rinpa School who carried on the approach of Hon'ami Kôetsu (1558-1637) while establishing his own individual style.The overall shape is rectangular with rounded corners, and the lid fits over the body. The upper tier of this two-tier box holds in the middle an inkstone with a gold rim and a rectangular copper water dropper. The lower tier is used to hold paper.The design is derived from a scene in "Eight Bridges," chapter nine of the Tales of Ise (J. Ise monogatari), a subject much loved and often depicted by Kôrin. The surface of the box is covered with black lacquer, and the lid and sides of the body are decorated with irises and plank bridges. Thick pieces of abalone shell are used for the iris blossoms, and the leaves and reeds are represented in gold makie (metal powder or flakes sprinkled in lacquer). The plank bridges employ lead strips corroded to give a sense of texture, and the bridge posts are made of silver strips. Although flowing water is not represented on the lid or sides, the bottoms of the two tiers inside have a wave pattern executed in gold makie.The viewpoint of the picture on the outside of the lid is on a diagonal from above, while the continuous bridge on the four sides is composed as if seen from directly overhead; overall, however, the impression is not unnatural. By contrasting black with silver and gold, and with a composition that mines the essence of the theme, this is a bold creation expressed with Kôrin's delicate sensibility and fine precision.


  • Title: Writing box, Design of Yatsu-hashi bridge
  • Creator: Ogata Korin
  • Date Created: Edo period, 18th century
  • Physical Dimensions: w197 x h142 x d273 mm
  • Object Title: 八橋蒔絵螺鈿硯箱
  • Object Notes(Japanese): 本阿弥光悦の様式を継ぎながら独自の作風を確立した琳派の中心的芸術家、尾形光琳(1658-1716)の硯箱である。 全体の形は、角を丸くとった長方形で、蓋を身より大きく造った被蓋(かぶせぶた)造りである。二段重ねの上段を硯箱とし、中央に縁を金地に仕立てた硯と、長方形の銅製水滴を置く。下段は料紙箱としている。 意匠は、光琳が好んで採り上げた『伊勢物語』第9段の「八橋」の場面による。表面には黒漆を塗り、蓋表と身の側面に燕子花(かきつばた)と板橋を描く。燕子花には厚手のアワビ貝を打ち欠いて用い、葉と茎は金の蒔絵で表現する。板橋は腐食させた鉛板で質感を出し、橋杭は銀板である。蓋表と側面には流水を表さず、内部の上下の箱の底に金の蒔絵で波文を描く。 蓋表は斜め上から見た図であるのに対し、連続する身の橋は真上から見た構図であるが、不自然さはまったくない。黒と金銀の対比、主題の本質を取り出す構図とも、光琳の繊細な感性と緻密な計算によって表現された大胆な造形である。
  • Object Date: 江戸時代・18世紀
  • Artist Name: 尾形光琳作
  • Type: Lacquerware
  • External Link: http://www.emuseum.jp/detail/100196

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