A tall Japanese export lacquer cylindrical cosmetic oil container, late 17th/early 18th Century.

Decorated with cranes, pine and peach trees in gold on a black ground, with a red interior, this small lidded vessel was for holding hairstyling oil. 10.5cm high, 7.5cm diameter.

The container would have formed part of the mirror-or-comb-stand set, a typical part of a bridal trousseau in Japan, and would have fitted into a drawer.

The craftsmanship is of a standard required for Japanese domestic products, for example, the red lacquer interior. However, it is also an example of readymade cosmetic boxes, which were sold overseas.

The container was exhibited at the 2008 exhibition ‘Export Lacquer: Reflection of the West in Black & Gold Makie’ at Kyoto Museum & the Suntory Museum, Tokyo.


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