[Bunko] (Box for books and other items) Design of a maple tree in [maki-e] lacquer

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[Bunko] (Box for books and other items) Design of a maple tree in [maki-e] lacquer

lacquer work / Edo

By Hara Yoyusai (1769-1845)

Edo period, 19th century

縦41.0 横29.5 高9.0

1合

This box was used to store books, paper and writing implements. The design is drawn on the box using lacquer, with fine gold powder then sprinkled on top. The powder sticks to the lacquer to create the golden pattern. The Japanese word for "sprinkle" is "maku", while the word for picture is "e", hence the name for this technique: "maki-e". A maple tree is drawn on the surface of the box. The foliage flows across both sides of the cover, inside the box itself and right down to the base. This three-dimensional pattern, ranging across the whole surface, is a characteristic feature of this work. This kind of design composition imitates the decorative style of the Rinpa school of painting. Hara Yoyusai, the creator of this object, hung around with popular writers and other cultural figures of his day. He ran a large workshop that produced inro medicine cases, netsuke toggles, tea ceremony utensils and a great many other objects. Yoyusai's works were highly-prized as luxury goods at the time, just like famous brands are today.

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