Japanese Gallery (Honkan) Room 14
April 10, 2007 (Tue) - July 1, 2007 (Sun)
Suiteki (water dropper) is a small container used with an ink stone for writing with a brush. It is mentioned in the Chronicles of Japan (Nihon Shoki) that the methods of paper and ink making were brought to Japan in A.D. 610 by a Korean priest sent by the king of Koguryeo. Therefore, the water dropper probably existed during the Asuka period (7th century) in Japan.
The earliest water dropper in Japan was made of gilt bronze and is among the Horyuji Treasures in the Tokyo National Museum collection. It is said to have been used by the Prince Shotoku. Those excavated from the Heijo capital site indicate that during the Nara period (710-794) there were many water droppers made of fired clay in various shapes.
From the Heian (794 - 1192) through the Meiji period (1868 - 1912), a water dropper was usually stored in a writing box with an ink stone, brushes, and ink cake. Due to the limited space inside, water droppers in writing boxes were low in height and were uniform in shape - round, oval, or foil with line-engraved or relief designs. The Edo period saw the emergence of water droppers in various shapes including animals, plants, and popular deities that could serve as desk and shelf ornaments. This display features water droppers from different periods to trace their history as well as works from the Edo period.