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Suiteki (water dropper)

Suiteki (water dropper) / Honkan Room 14   April 10, 2007 (Tue) - July 1, 2007 (Sun)

  
Suiteki (water dropper), Edo period, 17th - 18th century

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.

 Major works in this exhibition

* Works listed below are in the TNM Collection unless otherwise indicated.
Shuiyu Style Water Dropper, Gilt copper, Tang dynasty or Nara period, 8th century.
Water Dropper with Natural Glaze, Excavated at Heijo Palace Site, Nara, Nara period, 8th century. Lent by National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Nara.
Water Dropper, Flower and birds, Gilt bronze, Excavated at the top of Mt. Hakusan, Ishikawa, Heian period, 12th century.
Water Dropper in Shape of Ox, Bronze, by Watanabe Omi Daijo Masatsugu, Edo period, 17th century.
Water Dropper in Shape of Animals, Bronze, Edo period, 17th - 18th century.
Water Dropper in Shape of Birds, Bronze, Edo period, 17th - 18th century.
Water Dropper in Shape of Plants, Bronze, Edo period, 17th - 18th century.
Water Dropper in Shape of Human Figure, Bronze, Edo period, 17th - 18th century.
Water Dropper in Shape of Various Objects, Edo period, 17th - 18th century.