Lidded Sutra Box with Design of Peonies, Leafy Fronds, and Long-Tailed Birds
Artist/maker unknown, Japanese
This box was made to contain sutras, the sacred texts of Buddhism. The gold lacquer motif on the lid and sides is the so-called hosoge karakusa pattern: the imaginary hosoge (jewel-faced flower) is probably based on the peony and is closely associated with Buddhism, while karakusa (Chinese grasses) refers to the vine motifs that originated with the early Buddhist implements imported to Japan in the sixth century. The floral design was created by sprinkling a light layer of gold dust on a ground of black lacquer.