Title: Small Lacquer Incense Box
Date: 19th century
Dimensions: (W) 7 (D) 12 (H) 7 cm
A small lacquer incense box and cover in the shape of a duck with decoration in iroe hiramakie and takamakie.
Upon opening the container, the inside reveals a stippled nashiji [lit. pear skin] interior. The naturalistic detail of the plumage is carved in relief and is highlighted by gilded accents. These small containers, kōgō, were fashionable and practical items used to store incense. At times rare and obscure, the distinct natural fragrances were often associated with the blind identification games played by the medieval nobility. Later on, the Edo period (1600-1868) saw incense used in this way by the rising merchant classes as well, with boxes such as this enjoyed as a luxurious domestic piece or gift. When opened and looked at side by side, the interior and exterior display a striking contrast of gold.