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Asian Art
Artist: Koma Kansai II, Japanese, 1766–1835

Tobacco Case with a Crest Design

1824, 6th month, 15th day, Bunsei era

Gunmetal lacquer ground on wood with applied metal relief, decoration in gold and colored taka maki-e, silver metal interior

4 1/4 × 2 1/2 in. (10.8 × 6.4 cm)
Hobart and Edward Small Moore Memorial Collection, Bequest of Mrs. William H. Moore
1955.4.28
Because the traditional Japanese kimono is devoid of pockets, a number of hanging containers were developed. Inro, made of the best lacquered wood or lacquered ox-hide, were the most expensive and treasured of these containers. The inro (literally “seal baskets”) were originally used by men to carry personal seals, but during the Edo period (1615–1868), these compartmented cases came to be used for medicine or special items like letters and charms. Attached to the inro is a netsuke (or toggle, literally “root attach”), often made of ivory or wood, which acts as a stopper to prevent the inro from slipping off a kimono sash. The ojime (“cord tightener”) is a bead used to tighten the cords that keep the tiered containers of the inro strung together. By the eighteenth century, the functional aspect of the inro ensemble became secondary, and it increasingly served as a personal adornment. Samurai and townsmen alike expressed their individuality through their inro’s material, technique, design, and shape.
Geography: 
Japan
Culture: 
Japanese
Period: 
Edo period (1615–1868)
Classification: 
Containers - Lacquer
Provenance: 

Bequest of Mrs. William H. Moore (1858–1955), New York; Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn.

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 such records is ongoing.