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Inro

Inro

  • Place of origin:

    Japan (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1750-1850 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Silver, black and gold lacquer

  • Credit Line:

    Alexander Gift

  • Museum number:

    W.436-1916

  • 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.
Many inro were made of lacquer because it was highly suitable for storing medicines. Lacquer is the sap from the tree Rhus verniciflua that grows mainly in East Asia. The sap was processed, and the lacquer worker would then apply it in many thin layers to a base material. The craft of lacquering, as well as making inro bodies, is very complicated, time-consuming and expensive. This inro is decorated with crows on a branch against a full moon in silver, black and gold togidashie (brought out by polishing) lacquer. This technique produces a surface that is completely flat. This is why lacquer workers often used it for designs that are based on paintings. There are various versions of this design in paintings and prints.

Physical description

This inro is decorated with crows on a branch against a full moon in silver, black and gold togidashie (brought out by polishing) lacquer.

Place of Origin

Japan (made)

Date

ca. 1750-1850 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Silver, black and gold lacquer

Dimensions

Height: 9.0 cm, Width: 4.8 cm, Depth: 2.7 cm

Descriptive line

Inro, silver, black and gold togidashie (brought out by polishing) lacquer, crows and full moon, ca.1750-1850

Materials

Lacquer

Subjects depicted

Crows; Moon

Categories

Lacquerware; Accessories; Containers

Collection

East Asia Collection

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