By Hirata Harumasa, mid 19th century Inlaid on both sides with clumps of irises in cloisonné enamel, the interior of silver, signed Hirata Harumasa; with cloisonné enamel ojime.
7.3cm (2 7/8in).
燕子花図七宝象嵌鉄印籠 銘「平田春正」 19世紀中期
Provenance: purchased at Sotheby's London, 1977. Wrangham collection, no.1339.
Published: E.A.Wrangham, The Index of Inro Artists, 1995, p.69, Hirata Harumasa.
Hirata Harumasa was a member of the Hirata family of enamellers who specialised in sword fittings but occasionally worked on inro.
The flower is an emblem of victory as its leaf resembles the blade of a sword. The design and composition is also reminiscent of Ogata Korin's iconic screens in the Nezu Museum in Tokyo, painted with matching patterned forms of irises. The subject is derived from the famous scene in 'Journey to the East' (Azuma-kudari), episode nine of The Tales of Ise, in which Ariwara no Narihira and his followers stop to admire the celebrated eight-fold bridge over an iris pond in the Province of Mikawa.