Writing Box (Suzuribako) Artist: Unknown

17th–18th century

Asian Art

Not on view

The image of a waterwheel amid a river gushing under a bridge alludes to the Uji River, which runs through Uji City south of Kyoto and is a literary trope in classical waka poetry. The use of an asymmetrical scene was a departure in lacquer design during the early Edo period, inspired in part by painting styles that developed during the preceding Momoyama period. The writing box contains an inkstone (suzuri), on which an ink stick (sumi) is rubbed with water to produce ink in a variety of tonal gradations. The quantity of ink held in the brush can be adjusted against the slope and edge of the stone.


Black lacquer on wood with sprinkled gold dust and inlaid mother-of-pearl (maki-e), with an inkstone and a metal water dropper


1 5/16 × 7 5/8 × 8 7/16 in. (3.3 × 19.4 × 21.4 cm)

Credit Line

Gift of the Yale University Art Gallery Governing Board in honor of Louisa Cunningham

Accession Number



Edo period (1615–1868)


Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of records is ongoing.



Purchased from Klaus Naumann, Tokyo, 1981.
  • Denise Patry Leidy, Mother-of-Pearl: A Tradition in Asian Lacquer (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2006), fig. 39
Object copyright
Additional information


Old kiri box lid obverse insribed "_ _ maru _ \ Zôgan kama tsuri." Old kiri box lid obverse insribed "_ _ maru _ \ Zôgan kama tsuri." \r\n硯箱 琳派風黒漆阿古屋貝入り蒔絵 江戸時代

Technical metadata and APIs


Open in Mirador

View IIIF manifest

The International Image Interoperability Framework, or IIIF, is an open standard for delivering high-quality, attributed digital objects online at scale. Visit iiif.io to learn more

Linked Art

API response for this object

Linked Art is a Community working together to create a shared Model based on Linked Open Data to describe Art.