Tebako (cosmetic box) with black and nashiji background, decorated with several mon (family crest). Each side of this rectangular box is divided into two registers, separated by a diagonal golden maki-e flash. The black lacquer interior features a tray.
Among the mon is that of the Mizuno clan, which is said to be descended from the Seiwa Genji branch of the Minamoto clan. During the Edo period it counted several vassals (fudai daimyo) serving the Tokugawa shogunate. The mon called mizu no omodaka represents a water plantain with two wavy lines for the flowing water. In Japanese, its other name is shogunso, “victory plant”.
The pine bark diamond, matsukawa-bishi is shaped like three lozenges on top of each other. It is the mon of a branch of the Takeda clan of Kai province, a powerful family of daimyos. The pine tree can withstand harsh winters and extreme heat while remaining green. It is also a symbol of good luck and longevity.
The four-square mon, sumitate-yotsumeyui, was used by the Rokkaku clan, descendants of the Sasaki clan. The Rokkaku were influential in the Omi province during the Sengoku period (mid 15th century – late 16thcentury).
The kuniguni-mon sqare was used by the Ueda family. It represents a big nail puller, used in the construction of temples. Ueda Sôko (1563-1650) was the most famous member, a warlord of the Momoyama and early Edo period. He founded the Ueda-Sôko-ryû, a school of warrior class and tea ceremony in Hiroshima.
The handle shows a pawlonia behind a chrysanthemum. It was the emblem of the Toyotomi clan, before becoming the mon of the imperial family from the 13th century. Nowadays, it is the emblem of Japanese government; the chrysanthemum being used for the imperial family.
Former Noël Nouet (1885-1969) collection. He was a painter, draftsman, poet and French teacher in Japan. From 1951, he was the French tutor of the future Emperor Akihito (1933—). This box was given to him as a gift by the imperial family.
Japan – Edo period (1603-1868)
Height 5.51 in – length 7.09 in – width 6.3 in
Noël Nouet (1885-1969)
Noël Nouet was a painter, draftsman, poet and French teacher.
His mother collected prints from Hiroshige, obtained from a former consul general in Japan. He moved to Paris in 1900 to write poetry. While attending art and literature salons, he met several Japanese artists such as Tekkan, Akiko Yosano, Takashi Tatsuno, Yaso Saiji, etc.
In 1926, he went to Japan to teach at Shizuoka high school. In the 1930s, he produced a series of drawings entitled Ten View of Tokyo. He sketched the districts of Ginza and Kanda. He also looked for places painted by Hiroshige. His drawings were published in the magazine France and in the daily newspaper Japan Times, in books about Japan and in postcards. The Tokyo publisher Doi took an interest in his work and had woodblock prints made of it. He is sometimes referred to as “Hiroshige IV”.
Despite the Second World War and having lost his house in a fire in March 1945, he remained in Japan. He continued to draw what he witnessed, including ruined landscapes of Tokyo. These drawings are published in his album Tokyo, 50 drawings.
After the war, he teaches in several universities including Waseda University in Tokyo. In 1951, he was the French tutor of the future Emperor Akihito.