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Antique Japanese Lacquered Incense Box Kobako

Origin Japan
Period Pre 18th Century
Materials lacquer, wood, metal
W. 3.2 in; H. 1.95 in; D. 3.5 in;
W. 8.13 cm; H. 4.95 cm; D. 8.89 cm;
Condition Good. Wear consistent with age and use. Good antique condition with aged patina throughout, mellow and beautiful. There are overall rubbings, fine scratches, small nicks, minute losses and metal oxidation as expected. Heavy wear on the base as shown.
Creation Date 17th century
Description An old and exquisite Japanese lacquered small box likely used to contain incense powder (it is called Kobako), circa Momoyama to Edo period (17th century). The rectangular form box with a fitted lid features rounded corners and a subtle conforming inner line framing the designs. The surface was decorated with distinguished thunderbolt pattern outlined with bands of gold and silver powder contrasting sizes and density, which further continues to all the side walls. This dramatic geometrical pattern was historically associated with Kodaiji temple, a Zen Buddhist institute located in Kyoto. The Hiramakie background was contrasted with low relief takamakie rendering of a blooming plume tree among small rock formations and two large Kiku mon. The interior was finished in a dense nashiji with a near mirroring plume trees under the lead. The rims of this box was protected with lead. This box is likely dated to 17th century, late Momoyama to the early Edo period.
Reference: for a lacquered incense container (kogo) from Momoyama period with a thunderbolt background, see no 11 on page 64 in the book "Symbol and Substance in Japanese Lacquer; Lacquer box from the collection of Elaine Ehrenkranz" by Barbara Teri Okada.
Provenance: From the British collection of Soame Jenyns. From 1927 to 1931 he was in the Hong Kong civil service, after which he joined the British Museum where, except for secondment to the Admiralty during the war, he remained until 1968. He was on the Committee of the Royal Academy Exhibition, 1935-1936. He was Deputy Keeper of the Department of Oriental Antiquities 1950 to 1968. Between 1954 and 1972 he made gifts of Chinese porcelain to the Museum.
Styles / Movements Asian, Bespoke, Traditional
Patterns Asian/Oriental, Florals/Botanical, Geometric, Handmade
Incollect Reference Number 499025
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