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Octagonal Box with a design of butterflies in maki-e


Period Kamakura period, 14th century
Materials and techniques Wood with black lacquer and gold
Size D.13.5 Overall H.7.3


This small octagonal box has two butterfly shaped-silver handles attached on both sides. It is covered with black lacquer, sprinkled with gold powder ( nashi-ji ) and decorated with a design of soaring butterflies. Butterflies, being the main motif, are arranged freely all over the box and the number of them decreases as the motif moves from the lid to the bottom of the box. The decreasing sequence is a common layout style applied on cosmetic boxes made during the Kamakura period. Patterns of flowers and circular stars are depicted on wings of butterflies. The box is further embellished with inlaid thin gold and silver leafs ( kirikane ). Formerly owned by Kobori Enshū.

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