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Toiletry Case with Cart Wheels in Stream
National treasure
1 set
lacquered wood
L27.3 W35.5 H20.9
Kamakura period/13th century
Tokyo National Museum
This striking toiletry case (J. tebako) is made using the ikakeji raden technique, in which gold powder is densely sprinkled on a lacquered surface and delicately inlaid with cut-shell. The lid and body of the case fit snugly together; their rims are trimmed in tin, and silver fittings in the shape of cart wheels are attached to the sides. The exterior is covered with a design of flowing water in thin lines of lacquer sprinkled with gold powder (using the tsukegaki technique), and the soaking ox-cart wheels are made of inlaid openwork shell. The interior of the lid is decorated with a comma-pattern design (J. tomoemon).

The toiletry case is one of many domestic furnishings and was used to hold such things as cosmetics, paper, and writing materials. Compared with the Heian-period (794-1185) lacquerware of the same theme, the Toiletry Case with Cart Wheels in Stream (H4282; Tokyo National Museum), this example is larger. The intensity of the gold color is emphasized, and the placement of the cart wheels and other designs is regularized, reflecting the preferences of the Kamakura period (1185-1333).