- Antique Japanese box from late 18th / early 19th century
- Fascinating detail
- Curious looking monks
Wow! This is possibly one of the most unusual boxes I have come across. It’s Japanese and originates from between the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The front is decorated with a wonderful scene of what I believe to be a group of monks going about their daily business but they look very much like aliens with their rather large heads and their lack of hair.
A closer look reveals a beautiful scene. In the background there is watery landscape with islands, boats, a temple and trees. Closer, there is another temple and enclosed gardens where two monks are sitting at a table and another is bringing a pot of food. Two others are standing away from the table deep in conversation. I originally thought the monk’s heads were made of mother of pearl since they are so bright and clean, but with a closer look using a jeweller’s loupe you can see tiny cracking all over the top of the box so I presume the faces and hands are painted.
I can’t be sure whether the picture is dirty or has faded so, not being an expert on these things, I dare not try to clean it. This stunning antique box, measures approx. 18 x 14.5 x 4.5cm, it has only a few small chips of paint missing from the edges and one small chip to the wood in one corner of the lid. The inside of the box and the bottom are very shiny, so it is possible that a clean would bring the gold gilt back to life. I have found a couple of similar boxes but this one is remarkable for its condition and also it is much larger than any of the others I have come across.
A beautiful antique box with a fascinating scene.