This is a design I copied from an antique Japanese incense box from the Edo period (early 1600s-mid 1800s) I made a few alterations to the original design; the feet are different, added a divider to keep the very thin front and back walls perpendicular to each other (more sturdy), added offset holes on the sides, sloped the lids of the interior boxes to the center; and because I knew I would do some "artwork" on the bottom of the interior - I added a rail that the boxes rest on so as to not be directly on top of the painting - and this space might allow one to store additional thin packets of incense in the bottom under the boxes.
All of the artwork is of traditional Japanese themes, water, mountains, cranes, cherry blossoms, Ginko leaves, a temple, the sun, and a Torii Gate.
There are many types of Torii gates, some rather simple in design, and others more ornate and complicated in construction. They are believed to separate the mundane world from the spiritual world. The one I used here is an impression of the actual gate called The Floating Torii Gate, which is probably the most well known one of all.
There is a story with the themes - one would pass through the Torii Gate in a boat, then proceed over the sacred mountains, and arrive at the Temple, illuminated by the Sun. The cherry trees in bloom at the Temple are to be taken as clouds high up in the mountains, and the wispy golden lines on the sides are to be interpreted as the wind one would encounter when travelling over the mountains.
For the most part, I am copying, or imitating, Japanese water-color paintings - and to imitate this type of Sumi painting with tinted varnish is not easy. Before I did the paintings on the box, I polished out the finish some so as to give the gold an antique-ish look. This sort of worked, and I kinda regret doing so.
For perspective, the Torii Gate is 1cm X 1cm in size, about.
The scroll work was cut by hand using a coping saw, the paired front and back cut at the same time, then filed with small riflers. The offset holes on the sides were done on a drill-press, of course.
All stock is 5mm thick. Except the Ebony which registers the lids of the boxes into the bases, which is 3mm.
Dimensions: Outer box - 17cm wide X 12cm deep X 9 cm high.
The inner boxes are intended to store the small incense cones commonly used in Japan.
This box was supposed to be a gift to the Sensei at my Wife´s Aikido Dojo. She now thinks it is too nice to "give away," but I will insist, again, so we will see.