This single-piece bronze yatate, or brush and ink holder, is curved like a bow. The brush is missing, but when in place would have completed the bow shape. This creative shape (most yatate are pipe-shaped) indicates that this piece likely dates to the late Edo period (1600-1868), when several restrictions against items of luxury were in place; these restrictions did not apply to yatate, thus wealthy merchants used these accessories to show off status and style. In this case, the curved brush holder forms the body of a dragon or serpent; the brush would be inserted and removed through the creature's gaping mouth (visible upon opening the ink holder). The sumi-tsubo (ink pot) sits at the end of the yatate towards the dragon's head. The inkwell features further decorative engraving and a small fly is attached to its lid. Inside the sumi-tsubo is the cotton wad, darkened with dried ink, that was used to hold the ink and prevent it from spilling. At the other end of the yatate is the tail of the dragon with further decorative engraving and a ring used to fasten it to one's obi (sash). Underneath the mouth of the dragon is another small hole through which one could thread a string to attach the yatate to the obi.
A yatate (literally "arrow stand") is a portable smoking pipe–shaped brush and ink container. The name developed from the early samurai practice of keeping ink stones in arrow stands. The technique of using ink-saturated cotton to dip one's calligraphy brush in ink was developed during the Kamakura period (1185-1333) as a means of reducing spilling or dripping; the cotton could be enclosed in a sumi-tsubo to make it portable. Yatate were originally long boxes, and the smoking pipe shape developed to increase the amount of ink that could be transported. During the Edo period, it was briefly fashionable to have a separate ink box that was attached to the shaft of the holder by a chain.