May 13, 2021
Oct 25, 2010
Oct 25, 2010
May 12, 2021
Oct 25, 2010

Writing Box (Suzuribako) with the “First Song” (Hatsune) Chapter from the Tale of Genji

Writing Box (Suzuribako) with the “First Song” (Hatsune) Chapter from the Tale of Genji


early 1900s

Part of a set. See all set records

Lacquered wood with gold and silver sprinkled powder (maki-e), foil application (kirikane), and metal inlay

Overall: 22.8 x 26.7 cm (9 x 10 1/2 in.)

Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Newman T. Halvorson 1970.28



The design of this box was inspired by an object in the 1639 lacquer wedding set of Chiyohime, the daughter of the shogun (ruler). Information about the set became available in the Meiji period, leading some lacquer artists to emulate its designs. This box features a scene from the chapter “First Song” (Hatsune) of the Tale of Genji, in which Prince Genji and his love Murasaki enjoy her garden. It incorporates the written characters for “first” (初, hatsu) and “sound” (音, ne), indicating the first song of the warbler in spring, associated with the new year—the water dropper for mixing the ink is in the shape of this bird.

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