Tray with decoration of four seasons
Mother-of-pearl inlay on black lacquer
Momoyama-Edo period 16-17th century
W.44cm, D.31cm, H.4.7cm
Awasebako, collection box

At a glance, it seems a mere decorative tray. The flower petals and the circles designs made with mother-of-pearl and arranged at random. The flowers are depicted very abstractly so it is apt to disregard the real motif of the piece.
To see precisely reveals that the motif is the four seasons. Cherry blossom corresponds spring, clover indicates summer, pink flower expresses autumn, and the circle signifies winter.
There are fine cracks in spots, which is called danmon. As time has passed, the groundwork of wood shrinks as time has passed, and it causes the cracks. It is said that it happens at least after 200 years from the original age. Danmon is appreciated as a natural landscape and as a proof of the authenticity of antique. Bad treatment causes a break, beyond a crack. And coming off of mother-of-pearl also creates a nice landscape with lovely atmosphere.