Japanese - Writing Box and Implements (suzuri bako) with a Pheasant Beside a Stream - Walters 6775 - Three Quarter
Implements inside the box: A rectangular inkstone with a depression for water is positioned in the center of the box. On the right side are brushes and a stylus, while on left is an encased knife used to cut paper. The enamel piece above, in the shape of hollyhock leaves, is a water-dropper. An ink stick (sumi) would have been included in the set. The sumi is a small stick of solid ink that is turned into usable ink by grinding it on the inkstone and adding water.
Lid with pheasant beside a stream: The inlaid silver Japanese text on the lid is a partial line from a poem in Lady Murasaki Shikibu's early 11th-century novel The Tale of Genji. In chapter 29, "The Royal Outing," the emperor invites Genji to go hunting in the mountains outside Kyoto. Genji sends his regrets that he cannot join the royal party. The emperor decides to send Genji a couple of pheasants with the following poem attached:
Deep in the snows of Mount Oshio
Are ancient pheasants' tracks. Would that you might see them.
The box makes a poignant reference to this classical poem, as it holds the tools of a poet.