Suzuribako and Ryoshibako cranes

Rectangular paperbox decorated with birds and pine trees.

The lid presents a design mixing several techniques of lacquer work. This is visible with the three cranes represented in the middle of pine branches in gilded maki–e (powdered precious metalin varying density is sprayed onto a base or background of fresh lacquer ) on a black background.

The crane in the center is in brown lacquer with metallic pigments. It’s standing in profile, with its head turned towards the left. Its  crest is in coral lacquer and its eye in black lacquer. The details the plumage are in gilded maki-e.

Above the bird is the second crane which stands side-on, the body is directed to the left and the neck has adopted a twisted movement. It looks towards the right, its beak open, as if its ready to seize the pine branch just within its reach. Its crest is in coral lacquer, its eye in black lacquer, whereas the rest of the body is in gilded maki-e.

Under the central crane, a little more to the right, is the third bird facing towards the right. This one seems asleep. Its crest is in coral lacquer, its eye in black lacquer, and with the exception of the extremity of its right wing which is in brown lacquer decorated with some specks of black lacquer, its body is in gilded maki-e.

The trunk of the pine is in gilded maki-e. It’s decorated with a circle of coral lacquer. The details are highlighted in brown lacquer with metallic pigments in order to illustrate the faults and kinks of the bark.

The edge of the box is decorated with flying cranes in gilded maki-e with coral lacquered crests.

The lid is aikuchi zukuri (the lid rests on the edge of the body). The inside is decorated with a cherryblossom tree. By its roots some bamboo’s leaves can be found. The bottom is in hirameiji lacquer (black lacquer decorated with more or less dense golden glitter which specks remain distinguishable). The tree is in gilded maki and a use of harigaki (fine decorations realized with sharp objects on a still fresh lacquer base) so as to mark the details of the trunk.

The tray also displays an animal motif. It’s decorated with three  tortoises in a brook lined with rocks. This decoration is in gilded maki-e on a hirameiji background.

Suzuribako (writing box)

The lid of the rectangular suzuribako is also decorated with cranes against a background of pine trees. This design however seems bushier than that of the ryoshibako.

There are two cranes. The central crane, of profile, directed to the left is in gilded maki-e. She has a red crest in coral lacquer, her eye in black lacquer. The extremity of its left wing is brown lacquer with metallic dust.

Above it is a crane standing side-on. The body of the crane is in profile, facing to the left while the neck is in a twisted movement as it looks to the right. The bird is in brown lacquer with metallic pigments and some of the feathers are in golden maki-e. Its beak is open. The crest is in coral lacquer and its eye is in black lacquer. The inside of the lid is decorated with a cherry blossom tree. The background is in hirameiji lacquer. The tree is in gilded maki-e.

Japan – Meiji (1868-1912)

Suzuribako : Height  1 3/4″ – Width: 9 1/2″ – Depth: 8 1/2″

Ryōshibako : Height 5″ –  Width:  17″ –  Depth: 13″