This damascene cigarette case depicts a rustic piece of Japanese landscape. A Shinto shrine, marked by a characteristic gate, sits in the foreground; a mountain rises behind it. The piece, which dates to the early twentieth century, was most likely purchased as a souvenir during a holy pilgrimage.
Damascene is a surface decoration process that involves the inlaying of gold wire or silver into an undercut groove in the surface of bronze, iron or steel. Another form is the machining of curved line pattern into the surface of a metal. Watch parts are damascened by machine for a swirled or wavy finish.