Lacquer on wood
42.5 (h) x 24.1 cm
Taishō period (1912-1926)
This Jyūbako is a set of five tiered lacquered boxes for food on particular occasions such as “hare-no-hi”, a day of celebration.
This object is made with an extremely fine technique of maki-e inside and outside. This Jyūbako has two lids and the piece can be displayed as 3 + 2 boxes. The internal side of each lid shows an auspicious design of bamboo, pine tree and plum tree (Sho-chiku-bai)– known as The Three Friends of Winter (saikan sanyuu 歳寒三友), a symbol of good principles, rectitude, and perseverance.
The main design on the surface represents the Haru no Nanakusa 春の七草 (The Seven Herbs of Spring, which are seri, nazuna, gogyo, hakobera, hotokenoza, suzuna, and suzushiro), executed in fine golden maki-e lacquer. In this example, the radish is futamata-daikon (a two-pronged daikon, which literally means a daikon with two thighs). Also known as yome-daikon (“radish like a bride”), this is cherished as a symbol of fertility and the longevity of the family line, and also associated with the God Daikoku. Traditionally the Seven Herbs of Spring are consumed for Good Heath in rice porridge (nanakusa gayu) in the early spring.
The awasebako or collector’s box is extremely elaborate: black lacquer with metal corners and rings to allow it to be carried about, possibly from the kitchen to the dining room or outdoors, where guests and family members could gather to celebrate New Year and the arrival of spring.
The Seven Herbs of Spring: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nanakusa-no-sekku