A quatrefoil box for incense selection, 18th Century.

The 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. It has a bronze cord loop set on a peony-shaped base; the ostentatious decoration suggesting that the box was made with foreign tastes in mind. However, from the delicate construction of the box, it could be that it was used domestically 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.


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