Negoro heishi (ritual sake bottle) with pine tree and crane design
Lacquer on wood
Muromachi period, 16th century
H:31cm, D:22cm
Awasebako, collector’s box

Heishi is a type of jar used to offer sake to the gods. It has a tall and trumpet-shaped lower body. This form was developed in Japanese lacquer ware and was derived from the shape of the narrow-spouted “plum branch” vases of Song China that had been treasured and copied in Japan since the Heian period. It was used as daily utensil of the aristocrats, there are the descriptions in the tales of the Heian period. As a daily utensil, heishi is not really good form to serve sake, so a type of tokkuri (another kind of sake container) took place of it gradually after the Edo period.

Black lacquer Negoro is rather rare for its black color, called “kuro-negoro”. Red lacquer paintings with auspicious motifs or designs are painted often.
Regarding this piece, the motif “Matsu ni Tsuru” (pine tree and crane) is carefully painted entirely. This design is traditional and represents the longevity and good luck.
The condition is good for age, and the shape of the jar and the composition of the painting is exquisite.