The cylindrical kogos, or incense containers, are potted in three interlocking sections and painted in underglaze blue, iron-red, gold and silver.
The sides are decorated with the Shochikubai or ‘The Three Friends of Winter,’ prunus, pine and bamboo.
The flat lids decorated in brocade style and divided into two semi-circles, one half with plum blossom, the other with a ‘sunburst’ motif.
The compartments are bound together by means of a finely wrought silver-gilt filigree cage, 6.4 cm in diameter.
These beautiful little pieces are recorded in the 1690 Devonshire Schedule, an inventory recording an important bequest from Elizabeth, Countess of Devonshire (1619-1689) to her daughter Anne, Countess of Exeter (1649-1703).
The inventory lists: ‘A pair of Boxes of three pieces Each painted in colours garnisht with philigrin Top Bottoms Hinges and Clasps.’