Incense box with stylized bats and a crescent moon

Details

  • Catalogue text

    Incense box (kōgō) of black lacquer with two stylised bats and a crescent moon on the lid in gold leaf and togidashi with metal rims. The interior and base with sprinkled gold flakes on a black lacquer ground (nashiji).

    Stylization is a frequent feature of Japanese art; here two bats have been depicted almost as if they were as round as the moon against which they are silhouetted.

    Lacquer was the Meiji period craft that was least affected by the new markets. The old established craft was, of course, developed by such men as Shibata Zeshin (1807-1891), but only to a minor extent; there were no sweeping changes as there were in, say, metal-work. Works such as this, not intended for sale to a foreign client, retain the high quality achieved by painstaking and slow work, while the decoration is in the finest tradition of maki-e ('sprinkled picture') technique. The wood core of this incense box probably weighs less than six grams.

    In: Impey, Oliver, and Joyce Seaman, Japanese Decorative Arts of the Meiji Period 1868-1912, Ashmolean Handbooks (Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, 2005)

Glossary of terms

lacquer

maki-e

nashiji

togidashi

togidashi maki-e

Further reading

Impey, Oliver, and Joyce Seaman, Japanese Decorative Arts of the Meiji Period 1868-1912, Ashmolean Handbooks (Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, 2005), no. 48 on p. 100, illus. p. 101

Reference URL

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