During the Edo period, the women of the Samurai class carried a pouch in their chest area (right above the obi belt) when they were dressed up in formal kimonos. The pouch was folded into a skinnier shape and accented with a nice tie. Carried inside were the beni ita (today's lipstick), a mirror, tissues, kanzashi, coins, etc. The chains were added to the kanzashi (hair ornament) sometime later. The shape of the pouches became similar to a box and some were made fancier by adding embroideries. The women of Oh-oku were said to have spent their leisure time making them.
This is a little off topic on hakoseko; Oh-oku was the Tokugawa Shogun’s quarter in the Edo castle. It was a place strictly for women besides the Shogun. When the Japanese drama, 'Oh-oku' was broadcast on a cable channel here in California, the titles showed up as "Oh!oku", "The Women of the Inner Palace" or "The Oh-oku, War of The Belles". As the title suggested, it was quite an exciting drama; we could view some of the gorgeous kimono on men and women and some of the stories were just hair raising!
Back to hakoseko. Very few of them from the Edo period (1603-1868) survived and are seen today in museums and exhibitions. Hakoseko is still used today but only as an accessory for special ceremonial occasions such as weddings. The one that we offer here is probably from early 1900s and sometimes later. The colors of this hakoseko are softer than shown in the photos. The finer silk threads were used for the embroidery which gave it more detail. All and all, it appears older but cleaner than shown in some photos. Some frail areas on the edges. Approx. size: 5" x 3"