Wood body; gold and aokin togidashi maki-e with gold nashiji on a polished black-lacquer ground; the interior surfaces nashiji; the base polished black lacquer
Signed on the base with gold maki-e characters Yoshio tsukuru (Made by Yoshio)
With fitted kiri-wood tomobako storage box inscribed Kurage (Suigetsu) maki-e hako Tadayou (Box with sprinkled design of jellyfish, “Floating”), signed Yoshio tsukuru (Made by Yoshio) and sealed Yoshio
In describing his designs for this and the following four boxes, Okada chose the Chinese characters suigetsu (literally “water moon”) to represent the Japanese word kurage (jellyfish), while observing that kurage might also be written suibo (“water mother”) or kaigetsu (“ocean moon”); he chose the latter name for the two earlier treatments of the theme, reproduced on the preceding pages. To make distinctions between the five boxes (which are all the same size and distinctive splayed shape), for each of them he selected different verbs (mostly with origins in ancient poetry) with the general meaning of “floating and flickering in the water and on the surface of the water.” Here Okada creates a sense of depth by executing the maki-e decoration in two stages: the darker jellyfish are applied first with gold powders, then covered with a layer of reddish-brown lacquer, followed by the lighter-colored jellyfish.