A Japanese lacquer quatrefoil box for incense selection, 18th Century.

This charming box is decorated with double arabesque and stylised scrolling peony motifs using gold, silver and aokin flat makie, as well as applied flattened gold powder on a pear skin ground.

On the front of the cover is a fixture in the shape of half a four-lobed quince blossom, and a bronze cord loop set on a peony-shaped base.

The ostentatious decoration suggests that the box was made with foreign tastes in mind.

However, the delicate construction of the box, implies that it could have been considered for domestic use for storing utensils for the incense ceremony.

Some Japanese during the Edo period may have had an unconventional taste for lavish decoration.

It may be the item listed in the 1835 Burghley Inventory as: ‘Black and gold A box with lifting cover’; the silver having since oxidised and turned black.


Related collections