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Miniature chest of drawers

Miniature chest of drawers

  • Place of origin:

    Japan (made)

  • Date:

    1860-1867 (made)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Straw-work on a wood base

  • Museum number:

    847:1 to 6-1869

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Object Type
The small size of this chest of drawers suggests that it was designed as a decorative rather than a functional item. It was made specifically for export to the West and is typical of the kind of object made in response to the growing overseas demand for Japanese products.

In the 1850s Japan opened its ports to foreign trade. As a mass of goods and information about the country reached the West, a craze for all things Japanese swept across Britain, Europe and the United States. In the second half of the19th century craftsmen in Japan made large numbers of objects that catered for this taste. Many of these, like this chest of drawers, were relatively cheap and affordable.

Historical Associations
Japan was eager to take advantage of the western fascination for its products and exhibited many objects at the big exhibitions that took place in Europe and the United States in the 19th century. Japan organised its first display for the Paris International Exhibition of 1867. This chest of drawers was one of the objects exhibited on that occasion. The Japanese display was very successful and the V&A bought a number of objects, including nine straw-work boxes and cabinets.

Place of Origin

Japan (made)


1860-1867 (made)

Materials and Techniques

Straw-work on a wood base


Height: 13.1 cm, Width: 14 cm, Depth: 7.6 cm

Descriptive line

Straw-work miniature chest of drawers, Japan, 1860-1867

Labels and date

British Galleries:

The display organised by the Japanese at the Paris Exhibition of 1867 was a great success. Crowds flocked to see it. These are some of the many items acquired by the Museum. They are typical of the kind of objects made in Japan to meet the growing European demand. [27/03/2003]

Subjects depicted

Geometric patterns




East Asia Collection

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