Ivory kôgô, view of Ômi with Ishiyama temple

Round ivory kôgô box with shibayama technique, inlaid with gold and pewter or silver lacquer. Lake decoration in two cartouches on the side and the top of the kôgô, surrounded by rinceaux.

It could be the representation of views of Ômi, around Lake Biwa (present Shiga prefecture). The temple on the rocky mountain is probably the Ishiyama-dera, built around 762 A.D. in Ôtsu. It is part of the Kansai Kannon pilgrimage circuit. It is said that Murasaki Shikibu started to write The Tale of Genji in this temple on a full moon night in August 1004.

A kôgô is an incense box used in Japan as part of the tea ceremony. Made of glazed clay, lacquered wood or white porcelain, they often represent animals, plants or human figures.

The shibayama technique consists of inlaying ivory, lacquer, wood or precious materials or stones such as mother-of-pearl, tortoise shell, gold or silver. It was developed in the last quarter of the 18th century by Ônoki Senzo, during the An’ei era (1772-1781). He is a craftsman from the town of Shibayama, in the present Chiba prefecture.

Unidentified signature: 備??明.

Japan, Meiji Era (1868-1912)

Height: 1.8 in. (4.5 cm) – diameter: 2 in. (5 cm)