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Japanese Gallery (Honkan) Room 12  August 31, 2021 (Tue) - November 21, 2021 (Sun)

Cosmetic Box with Cypress-Fan Crests, Kamakura period, 13th century (Important Cultural Property)

Lacquer is the sap of the lacquer tree, which grows in East and Southeast Asia. Naturally sticky, it can be brushed onto different materials, and hardens into a durable coating that is waterproof and resistant to acids, alkalis, and heat. Because of its versatility and beauty, lacquer has been central to daily life in parts of Asia for over 9,000 years.

In Japan, artisans coated everyday items with lacquer, including furniture, boxes, dining sets, and cosmetic and writing tools. The base material could be wood, pottery, cloth, leather, or paper. To decorate these items, artisans painted designs with a mixture of lacquer and pigment, or used lacquer like a glue to inlay metal and mother-of-pearl.

But the pinnacle of lacquer decoration in Japan is maki-e (sprinkled picture). It consists of painting a design with lacquer, and then sprinkling metal powders onto the sticky lacquer before it hardens. Artisans first used maki-e techniques in the 8th century. As shown in this gallery, they developed them to an extraordinary degree over the centuries.

Major Work(s) on Exhibit 4 results
Designation Name Amount Creation Excavation Period Acquisition Ownership Comment
_MD_RECOMMEND Important Cultural Property Cosmetic Box with Cypress-Fan Crests Kamakura period, 13th century H-4214
_MD_RECOMMEND Important Cultural Property Saddle with Chrysanthemums Kamakura period, 13th–14th century H-4639
_MD_RECOMMEND National Treasure Lamp Stand with "Hōsōge" Flowers Heian period, 12th century Lent by Daichōju-in Temple, Iwate
_MD_RECOMMEND Table with a Plum Tree under the Moon Muromachi period, 16th century H-504
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