COLLECTION: Household Accessories

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Incense Cabinet

1877-1920
Origin: Japan, Tokyo
Overall ( jewelry box): OH: 9 3/8 in.; OW: 8 3/4 in.; OD: 11 1/2 in. Overall (packing case): OH: 11 1/2 in.; OW: 10 1/4 in.; OD: 13 1/8 in. Overall (silk pillow): OH: 1/2 in.; OW: 8 in.; OD: 8 in. Overall (silk wrap): OH: 36 1/2 in.; OW: 36 1/2 in.
Wood, gold and silver makie lacquer, silver; silk, Japanese ash, cotton (?)
Gift of Akihito Tsugunomiya
Acc. No. 2017-5,A-D
Rectangular maki-e ("sprinkled pictures") gold/brass/copper colored lacquered box with silver handle in center of top (with silver nail stops where bail its lacquered top), and silver mounts at each corner; thumbnail molded top and side edges; serpentine integral base molding and feet with silver corners; front (end) of box hinged with three larger silver hinges on proper left and secured with large silver thumb bolt in the same form as the hinges on proper right; interior has four graduated drawers each with a tri-lobed silver bail and gadrooned rosettes; all wooden surfaces of box and drawers are lacquered; exterior surfaces have landscape scenes with rocks, trees, and clouds; door front has a landscape scene with an Imperial chrysanthemum crest in the center; drawer fronts each have a different pattern and color tint; interior of door has a pattern similar to the bottom drawer front with a rock formation in the center; all other interior and bottom surfaces have a gold sprinkled on red/orange lacquer, possibly displaying the nashiji technique; Japanese characters ae in gold on the underside of the box translate to Funabashi Shumin. Packing case: rectangular Japanese ash box joined with wooden pegs with removable lid; two green cotton (?) grosgrain straps are threaded through slots in the base of the box and tie on top; typewritten paper label taped to box reads "JEWEL BOX / (19th century) / Gift of / Crown Prince of Japan"'; packing case stamped on underside in a diamond with a logo or character "EBIYA ART STORE / TOKYO / JAPAN"; flat silk knife edge cushion/square silk wrapper.
Label:This cabinet with its associated packing case was presented to John D. Rockefeller, Jr. by His Imperial Highness Akihito Tsugunomiya (b. 1933), Crown Prince of Japan, on the occasion of his visit to Colonial Williamsburg in September, 1953.

The cabinet is signed by the well-known lacquer artist, Funabashi Shumin (1859-after 1914), who won a silver medal at the St. Louis World Fair (Louisiana Purchase Exposition) in 1904. Shumin worked in Tokyo during the Meiji period (1867-1912) and produced pieces for the Imperial Family, including this incense cabinet, presumably as presentation gifts. The chrysanthemum on the front door of this cabinet represents the Imperial Seal of Japan.

Known as an incense cabinet, this could be used to store small pieces of incense wood or other types of incense. It was also popular among Westerners in the late 19th and early 20th centuries for jewelry boxes or as decorative items. The sprinkled metalic lacquer surface of this box combines multiple techniques known generally as maki-e.
Provenance:This cabinet with its associated packing case was given to John D. Rockefeller, Jr. and Colonial Williamsburg by His Imperial Highness Akihito Tsugunomiya (b. 1933), Crown Prince of Japan on the occasion of his visit to Williamsburg in September, 1953.
Mark(s):Packing case stamped on underside in a diamond with a logo or character "EBIYA ART STORE / TOKYO / JAPAN".
Inscription(s):On jewel box: Japanese characters painted in gold in underside of box translate to Funabashi Shumin.

On packing case: typewritten paper label taped to box reads "JEWEL BOX / (19th century) / Gift of / Crown Prince of Japan".