Or are you looking for Search the Archives?

Please complete the form to email this item.


  • Place of origin:

    Japan (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1775-1850 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Black, gold and brown lacquer, with pearl-shell

  • Credit Line:

    Salting Bequest

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

The inro is a container made up of tiers. Japanese men used them because the traditional Japanese garment, the kimono, had no pockets. From the late 1500s onwards, Japanese men wore the inro suspended from their sash by a silk cord and a netsuke (toggle). They originally used it to hold their seal and ink or a supply of medicines. However, it rapidly became a costly fashion accessory of little or no practical use. Most inro are rectangular with gently curving sides.
The main decoration was on the outside surfaces. In rare cases, makers also decorated the risers, which were only seen when the tiered sections were separated. On this inro, the exterior shows a fish encrusted in pearl-shell, with seaweed in lacquer. By contrast, the risers show floral scrolls in chinkinbori (incised lines filled with lacquer and gold powder). In this way the maker has provided a contrast in the colour, technique, height and texture of the decoration.

Place of Origin

Japan (made)


ca. 1775-1850 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Black, gold and brown lacquer, with pearl-shell


Height: 7.0 cm, Width: 7.3 cm, Depth: 2.5 cm

Descriptive line

Inro (sections separated), black, gold and brown lacquer with pearl-shell, fish, ca.1775-1850


Lacquer; Shell



Subjects depicted



Lacquerware; Accessories; Containers


East Asia Collection

Large image request

Please confirm you are using these images within the following terms and conditions, by acknowledging each of the following key points:

Please let us know how you intend to use the images you will be downloading.