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Tebako (cosmetic box) with design of Urashima

Tebako (cosmetic box) with design of Urashima

14th century

The story of Urashima as told in the 8th-century Manyoshu, a collection of poems and prose, is portrayed on the underside of the lid of this cosmetic box. The legend recounts how Urashima, a fisherman, saved a dying tortoise who was the daughter of the Dragon King. They went to live in the land of immortality under the sea but Urashima desired to see his family. The princess allowed him to leave, giving him a box and instructing him not to open it. Returning home he was unable to find anyone, and forgetting the instructions opened the box, instantly becoming an old man. What had seemed three years in the land of immortality was three hundred years. Here Urashima is depicted on an island of pine trees, encircled by cranes as the island of the blessed sits upon the back of a tortoise—all symbols representing long life and immortality.
Maki-e lacquered wood
6 1/4 x 11 1/2 x 9 5/8 in. (15.9 x 29.2 x 24.5 cm)
Gift of Mrs. Donald E. Frederick
51.78
location
Not currently on view

Resources

Exhibition HistorySeattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, "Japanese Art In The Seattle Art Museum", 1960 (1960)

Cleveland, Ohio, Cleveland Museum of Art, "Japanese Decorative Style", 1961; (Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, 1961).

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, "A Thousand Cranes: Treasures of Japanese Art", Feb. 5 – Jul. 12, 1987.

Kyoto, Japan, Kyoto National Museum, "Art of the Court," Apr. 12 - May 15, 1994.

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, "Flights of Fancy: Natural and Supernatural Images In Japanese Art", Dec. 9, 1998 – Aug. 1, 1999.

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, "Masterpieces of Japanese Art from the Collection of the Seattle Art Museum", Nov. 1, 1998 – Mar. 1, 1999.

Tokyo, Japan, Suntory Museum of Art, "Luminous Jewels: Masterpieces of Asian Art From the Seattle Art Museum", Jul. 25 – Sept. 6, 2009; (Kobe City Museum, Sept. 19 – Dec. 6, 2009; Yamanashi Prefectural Museum of Art, Dec. 23, 2009 – Feb. 28, 2010; MOA Museum of Art, Mar. 13 - May 9, 2010; Fukuoka Art Museum, May 23 – Jul. 19, 2010).

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, "Luminous: The Art of Asia", Oct. 13, 2011 – Jan. 8, 2012

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Asian Art Museum, “Legends, Tales, Poetry: Visual Narrative in Japanese Art,” Dec. 22, 2012 – Jul. 21, 2013

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, "Noble Splendor: Art of Japanese Aristocrats," Jul. 28, 2018 - Mar. 3, 2019.

Published References"Handbook, Seattle Art Museum: Selected Works from the Permanent Collections." Seattle, WA: Seattle Art Museum, 1951, p. 89 (b&w)

Fuller, Richard E. "Japanese Art in the Seattle Art Museum: An Historical Sketch." Seattle, WA: Seattle Art Museum, 1960 ("Presented in commemoration of the Hundredth Anniversary of Diplomatic Relations between Japan and the United States of America"), no. 46

Thomas, Edward B. "Oriental Art in the Seattle Art Museum," in Art in America, no. 1, 1965, illus. p. 60

"Selected Works." Seattle, WA: Seattle Art Museum, 1991, p. 187

Knight, Michael, "East Asian Lacquers in the Collection of the Seattle Art Museum." Seattle, WA: Seattle Art Museum, 1992, no. 13, pp. 18-20

Kawai, Masatomo, Yasuhiro Nishioka, Yukiko Sirahara, editors. "Luminous Jewels: Masterpieces of Asian Art From the Seattle Art Museum". The Yomiuri Shimbun, 2009, catalogue number 10

The Seattle Art Museum acknowledges that we are located on the ancestral land of the Coast Salish people.