Museum Folkwang
  • Japanese Lacquer Work

  • The elegance of East Asian lacquer work provides little clue to the adaptability and durability of the material on which it is based. The sap of the lacquer tree from East Asia – Rhus vernicifera is drawn through cuts in its bark and then, in several steps, is purified, dehydrated and colored. Black and red dominate a limited range of colors as only a few natural pigments can resist the corrosive force of the liquid lacquer. Applied in extremely thin layers, the lacquer needs several days to dry with high humidity. Once it is completely hardened, however, it is highly resistant to water, acid and lye, alcohol and all types of solvents.
    A quite independent and traditionally very widespread Japanese lacquer technique is the sprinkled picture –maki-e. Mentioned in literature from the 9th century, the oldest existing object dates from the 10th century. The sprinkled picture is a process in which, on a hardened lacquer surface, gold and silver powder is sprinkled on a lacquer decor before it hardens. The powder can create a wide range of effects through graded tones and consistency as well as through various thicknesses of sprinkling. A further increase in expressive possibilities arises through sprinkling across an entire surface (hiramaki-e) or sprinkling on a decor in relief (takamaki-e), as well as through an especially delicate variation in which a flat scattered décor is completely covered with a lacquer in the base color and then exposed through polishing (togidashi maki-e).
    A quite new style in its choice of technique and decor is represented by a writing box from the early Edo period. This flat box contained water color bars, water dropper and rubbing stone as well as brushes and thus all the utensils necessary for writing and painting. For Japanese lacquer art, the compartments are especially significant as they are almost all lacquered. In the combination of flat scattering technique with lead inserts, in its large diagonal composition and especially with its crane motif, the décor draws directly on models from the Rimpa school and its prominent genius Hon’ami Koetsu (1558-1637).

    The tea culture, with its established rules and utensils, was introduced into Japan by Japanese monks after their stay in a south Chinese Zen monastery in the 12th century. They used either original Chinese tea vessels or those closely oriented on the Chinese model. A good example of this is the Japanese cup stand which dates from the 15th or 16th century – a period which, under the influence of the Ashikaga Shogun, modeled itself closely on Chinese culture. It is decorated in negoro nuri, a technique named after the Negoro temple, in which black lacquer is completely covered with red lacquer.
    It was directly modeled on the monochrome lacquers of the Song period, from which is drawn the blossom-like trimming of the cup stand. Used over many years, the red lacquer of the vessel was worn down on certain spots, allowing the black lacquer to show through. These stripes or spots were not seen as detracting; instead they were held to increase the beauty and venerability of the object, which led increasingly to objects being worn down artificially or even black lacquer being applied afterwards for an artificial Negoro effect.
  • Exh_Title_S: Japanese Lacquer Work
  • Exh_Id: 499
  • Exh_Comment_S (Verantw): Archaeology, Global Art, Applied Arts
  • Exh_SpareNField01_N (Verantw ID): 185
Works
Schreibkasten (suzuribako)
Räucherwerkbrenner (hitorimo)
Kasten für Zahnschwärzepulver (hagurobako)
  • Japan
  • Kasten für Zahnschwärzepulver (hagurobako), späte Muromachi-Zeit, 16. Jh.

  • Tooth-Blacking Box (hagurobako)
  • As motif, a large pine, with a flowering wisteria wound around its truck, in front of it a brocade curtain, in the inside and the sides, scattered wisteria branches
  • Inv. KPL 170
Kanne für heißes Wasser (yutô)