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The ingenuity and grace of the ancient craft of lacquerware are celebrated in this design. It portrays a masterful example of a 19th-century Japanese lacquer box made during the Edo or Meiji period and currently held in a private collection in Kyoto. The original box is lacquered in the Maki-e tradition, in which sap from the lacquer tree is sprinkled with metallic powder, such as gold, silver or copper. Over the centuries, craftspeople learned to use this sap, which hardens to a brilliant, glossy coating, as a finish to decorate and protect favoured wood and paper objects. These fine lacquered surfaces are evidence of the uniquely human ability to create beauty from unlikely sources.