A Japanese export lacquer two-tiered tooth-blackening box and cover, late 17th/mid18th Century.

The box is decorated with sprays of cherry blossom interspersed with crests of two crossed Japanese oak leaves within a circle, using thinly raised gold and silver makie on a pear-skin ground.

The centre front of the lower tier is fitted with a gilt-copper eyelet in the form of an engraved paulownia crest, 13.9cm.

The style of the box is based upon that of a tooth-blackening box, which was part of the bridal trousseau of members of the military classes in Japan during the Edo period, (1603-1868).

The reasons for the application of a Japanese crest on export pieces are unknown: perhaps they were ready-made products employing arbitrary crests, or samples and remaindered stock, which eventually found their way to a foreign market.

Exhibited: ‘Export Lacquer: Reflection of the West in Black & Gold Makie.’ 2008, Kyoto Museum & Suntory Museum, Tokyo, Cat. No.185.


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