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Japanese Maki-e Lacquer Box for Emperor
- Japanese Emperor Taisho personally commissioned this exceptional lacquer box as a special gift
- Inlaid with the Chrysanthemum seal of the Imperial house, the maki-e masterpiece is extraordinary
- Still in exquisite condition, it also possesses its original silk packaging and wood shipping box
- It is believed this remarkable box was made by Kawanobe Iscco
- Get complete item description here
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Maki-e, which literally translates as the sprinkled picture, is the Japanese lacquer decoration technique in which designs are drawn with lacquer on the surface of lacquerware, and then the gold powder is sprinkled and fixed on the surface. This process was perfected during the Meiji period (1868-1912)— a golden age in Japanese history. As Japan expanded its trade with the Western world, its exquisite craftsmanship in metalwork, cloisonné and maki-e played a pivotal role in presenting Japan's refined culture and national identity to the world.
To safeguard the sacred essence of maki-e, and to make sure that quality would never be compromised, the Imperial Household Workshop was established under the patronage of Emperor Meiji. Only four craftsmen were appointed by the Emperor to produce crafts for the Imperial family, including the master Kawanobe Iccho. Objects made for the Imperial family were rarely signed, but it is believed this remarkable box was made by Iscco, the undisputed master of maki-e. A very similar maki-e box by Iccho, though without the esteemed Imperial provenance, is currently held at the Kiyomizu Sannenzaka Museum, and was featured in the National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto’s 2018 exhibition, The 150th Anniversary of the Meiji Period.
Crafting maki-e lacquerware was an intricate and time-consuming process, and was closely guarded by the Japanese government since ancient times. Making a box of such exceptional quality would have taken Iscco and his helpers thousands of hours to complete. The artist began by carefully applying up to 20 layers of rare and expensive lacquer to a thin wooden base, allowing each layer to dry before continuing. With a delicate touch, he then inlaid the exceptional decoration on all surfaces of the box, including the inside lid, interior and base.
6 1/4" high x 12 3/8" wide x 10 1/4" deep