The Kura - Japanese Art Treasures

Robert Mangold has been working with Japanese antiques since 1995 with an emphasis on ceramics, Paintings, Armour and Buddhist furniture.

Exceptional Suzuri Bako Lacquer Box by Nishimura Hikobei (Zohiko)

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Directory: Antiques: Regional Art: Asian: Japanese: Lacquer: Pre 1930: Item # 1483210
The Kura
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817-2 Kannonji Monzen-cho
Kamigyo-ku Kyoto 602-8385
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A superlative writing box (Suzuri bako) by the 8th generation Nishimura Hikobei (Zohiko) enclosed in the original signed wooden box. The wooden structure is covered in black lacquer and decorated with Hira Maki-e and Togidashi Maki-e using powdered gold, silver and Kanshitsu-ko with iro-nashiji and Raden (Mother of Pearl) inlays. The rim is solid silver. Inside is perhaps even more sumptuous that outside, with fans on clouds of gold nashiji. It contains the original circular Suzuri (stone) covered in nashiji lacquer, as well as a solid silver water-dropper set in to a wooden tray lacquered exactly the same as the box. Two fude brushes covered also in Nahiji as well as a perfect ink stink cast with dragon motif are contained within, and all are protected by a padded silk pillow. The box is 23.5 x 28 x 5.5 cm (9-1/2 x 11 x 2 inches) and in perfect condition. It appears to have never been used.
The Zohiko family dates back to 1661 when they opened as a shop specializing in lacquer tools. Nishimura Hikobei III received the title of Master of Maki-e from the Imperial Court after creating a makie plaque depicting `a White Elephant and Fugen Bosatsu. It was from this scene of an elephant (Zo) and the Hiko in Hikobei, that the modern name was born. The 4th generation Hikobei served as a purveyor to the Sento Imperial Palace, and the 6th generation Hikobei was well-versed in the art of elegance and produced many masterpieces, including works called Konomi-mono, utensils specifically for the masters of the various tea schools. Hikobei VII established the Kyoto Maki-e Art School and worked hard to train the next generation. Theendeavored to spread the fame of Japanese lacquer and concentrated on promoting lacquer exports. The inside of the imperial carriage was decorated with maki-e on the occasion of the Taisho Emperor's Grand Enthronement, and he Provided lacquer work for the Omiya Imperial Palace, Nijo Castle, and banquet halls. Re-decoration of the Kyoto Imperial Palace was carried out on the occasion of Emperor Showa's enthronement. In addition, he produced many gifts for and from the imperial family and for state guests.