A Japanese gold lacquer Inro with five compartments. A relief of a pair of silver horses dominates the landscape scene of a seaside village with drying racks of fish and pines and clouds in the background. The horses are galloping over a creek with foliage. The reverse side shows a lone horse under a fruit tree and thatched cottage. The inside compartments are covered with dense nashiji lacquer (fine gold flecks). The cord has an agate ojime. Inro (seal basket) are small decorative containers that hang from the waist. They originate at the end of the 16th century and were worn by men to hold seals and herbal or other medicines. They were considered a particularly good way of keeping the contents sealed and fresh. By the 18th century, they became decorative accessories and were commissioned by the merchant class, provincial rulers and their samurai, and those that could afford them. Inro are made from very thin leather, wood or paper covered in decorative lacquer. They consist of separate sections stacked on top of each other, and are kept together by a cord loop that passes through a channel on each side and underneath the bottom section. The sections are held together when the cord is tightened by pulling it through a bead (ojime). The cord is then passed behind the waist sash so that the Inro hangs freely from the waist. To prevent the Inro from slipping through the obi, a small decorative toggle (netsuke) is attached to the end of the cord.
19th C Meiji period (1868-1912)
Dimensions: 4" X 2.75" X 1"