Hearst Museum Portal

Container, netsuke and bead

Museum number:
Alternate number:
3900 (previous number (Design Dept.))
Accession number:
Object count:
Inro, netsuke and ojime: Inro (a) is a lacquer box of 5 nesting sections. Top and bottom: side oval shape. Raised cord guides. Brown braided silk cord tied at bottom w/ double loop. Elaborate detailed depiction of a ferry full of various types of people, half portrayed on one side, continuous w/ other. 2 small boats beside it w/ men fishing. High seas. All portrayed by gold and silver sprinkles (maki-e) on black ground. Netsuke (b) is carved ivory representing a Buddhist angel (tennin) flying, holding lotus blossom. Scroll work and crosshatch textile patterns on the flowing robes. Hair and eyes painted black. Ojime (c) is a white ivory bead inlaid w/ mother of pearl, tortoise shell, coral and white shell depicting vines, butterfly and wisteria blossoms, W/ incised and painted detail. (a) The entire decoration of the exterior of the inro is made by the Togidashi technique w/ resultant flat, smooth surface. The gold powder is sprinkled over the wet lacquer design on the red base (e-rushi), in various densities and partical sizes to suit the design. An overcoat of black lacquer (kuro-urushi) is than [then] applied and ground down when dry to reveal the gold design, the black forming part of the design and the 'ground' for the metal particles. The boats, faces, and some of the clothing of the passengers are formed by very fine, dense sprinkling of gold powder, some of silver. Black detail. The waves are formed by lines of dense particles of gold, and a less dense, cloudy, uneven sprinkle between. (maki-bokashi). The top and bottom are plain, even dense covering of sprinkled gold (fundame). The surface is worn in places showing the red base. Many small dents, and scratches. The interior entirely decorated w/ nashiji ("pear ground"): coarse particles of gold sprinkled on wet lacquer; covered by black lacquer; ground and polished down and covered by a red tinted transparent lacquer. Cord is broken. (c) Two of the white-shell (?), inlaid leaves have fallen out and are missing. L. (a) 8.7cm.; (b) 4.5cm. Dia. (c) 2cm.
Design Department (UC Berkeley)
Collection place:
Verbatim coll. place:
Culture or time period:
Albert M. Bender
Collection date:
before 1933
Coral (material), Gold (metal), Ivory (material), Paint (coating), Paper (fiber product), Shell (animal material), Silk, Silver (metal), Tortoise shell, and Wood (plant material)
Object type:
2.2 Personal Adornments and Accoutrements
Accession date:
Context of use:
The inro was originally used for holding the seals used for officiating signatures. It was later adapted for carrying various articles including medicines, herbs, etc. and became subject to elaborate decoration by the merchant and warrior classes for adornment. To wear it, the netsuke was thrust through the sash of the kimono for the support of the inro; the ojime functioning to keep the compartments closed by tightening the cords.
Cat. 9 - Asia (incl. Russia east of Urals)
b— length 4.5 centimeters, c— diameter 2 centimeters, and a— length 8.7 centimeters
Legacy documentation: