A Meiji period Japanese lacquerware box for holding 2 decks of playing cards. In the manner of Akatsuka Jitoku (1871 - 1936).
As individual pieces of oriental art, Japanese Lacquerware for sale remains highly collectable. Akatsuka Jitoku (1871-1936) was a Japanese artist. He created Japanese lacquerware based on the Maki-e style. Jitoku attended the Japan Art Academy.
Condition: Good. Some chips to lacquer and a split in the cover.
Dimensions: 12cm x 8.5cm x 6cm approx.
Provenance: Ex. Private collection, Hampshire, UK.
Japanese lacquerware is a tradition that dates back to 5000 BC, during the Jomon period of Japanese prehistory. Made from the sap of the Japanese lacquer tree (native to China and India), the specific lacquer can be found on pictures, decorative pieces like Buddha statues, bento boxes, ceramics, furniture, a variety of prints, and more. The varied and extensive Japanese lacquerware history can be evidenced by some of the earliest examples found at the Kakinoshima “B” Excavation Site in Hokkaido, northern Japan. Dating back about 7,000 years, these pieces of pottery and other objects were discovered in a pit grave. During this time, this lacquer was frequently used on ceramics and wooden ancient Japanese lacquerware items. In some cases, the deceased were even buried in lacquered clothing.
The term lacquer refers to hard, often shiny finishes that are applied to a variety of materials, especially wood. Japanese lacquerware covers a wide range of fine and decorative arts made of wood, basketry, leather and more. Types of lacquerware include decorative pottery, dinnerware and tea sets, vases, and pieces of furniture. Lacquerware is coated with a specific type of lacquer made from poison oak sap, or urushi, that originates from the Chinese or Japanese lacquer tree. The term urushi is also used to describe Japanese lacquerware itself. Growing up to around 65 feet tall, these trees are native to China and the Indian subcontinent. They are cultivated and tapped in China, Korea, and Japan. The sap is treated, dyed, and dried, then applied (typically in three coats) on objects to form a hard, smooth, waterproof surface layer.
Today, Japanese lacquerware can be found in various shapes, colors, and sizes. In the early days, however, the types of objects that could be made with lacquer were limited. Various boxes of all shapes and sizes were created during the Edo period. Some of these boxes stored poems, other papers, cosmetics, and more. Boxes called suziribako, were used specifically for writing tools: ink slate, water droppers, and brushes. During the Edo period, inro became widely produced with lacquer. These were traditional Japanese tiny containers with multiple compartments, which hung from obi ties around the waist. Obi held medicine and other small items, and were covered with lacquer and intricate designs which made for impressive fashion accessories. Other commonly seen and collected objects include Japanese lacquerware boxes, pitchers, tea sets, and furniture including ornately decorated chests and cabinets.
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