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Tebako (cosmetic box) with design of Urashima

Tebako (cosmetic box) with design of Urashima

14th century

Likely part of a dowry for a noblewoman, this box was used to hold cosmetic utensils and other small items such as incense, a small writing box, and paper. Gold leaves in a tortoise-shell pattern decorate the exterior. The inner side of the lid illustrates the story of Urashima, a fisherman who saved a dying tortoise, which turned out to be the Dragon King’s daughter. Urashima is depicted on an island of pine trees encircled by cranes, and the tortoise with an islet on its back is in the background—all auspicious symbols representing longevity.
Lacquer, wood, gold, gilt bronze, tin
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
Now on view at the Asian Art Museum

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

Seattle Art Museum acknowledges that we are on the traditional homelands of the Duwamish and the customary territories of the Suquamish and Muckleshoot Peoples. As a cultural and educational institution, we honor our ongoing connection to these communities past, present, and future. We also acknowledge the urban Native peoples from many Nations who call Seattle their home.

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