Ryūkyō suisya maki-e teaburi
Hand warmer with design of willow, bridge, weeping cherry tree, and waterwheel
Lacquered wood with maki-e, bronze
Edo period, 17th century
W.65cm, D.43cm, H.21cm
Collector’s box, written “Ryūkyō suisya maki-e teaburi” (lacquered hand warmer with design of willow and bridge).

The willows drooping onto the bridge, the gabions and waterwheel. It is a typical prototype of Japanese folding screen since the Muromachi period. In the Momoyama period, all the painters took it as the subject for a painting as Hasegawa Tōhaku.

It is almost the same even today, the willows or cherry trees are often planted on the riverside in Japan. It is thought to prevent a flood. Especially the willows like the humid place and the roots are deep so it was convenient to plant on the riverside.
There is another reason about why the cherry trees were planted. When the riverside was constructed, the soil needed to be stamped on the ground until it is firm. The cherry trees are an ideal to assemble people without effort, because people gather naturally when the trees blossom. What a clever idea of the predecessors!

The mother-of-pearl work and gold and silver maki-e lacquer work are absolutely gorgeous. The artist made full use of the blank of the grain of wood, and its old patina became very dark as if it is a landscape of the quiet night. The daring diagonal composition has a real Momoyama – beginning of Edo period’s atmosphere. Tasteful and poetic piece it is.

A flat traditional method of decorating lacquer objects. Motifs are drawn with lacquer on the surface and gold or silver powder in differing grades is sprinkled on the still wet lacquer ground. Flat type.
A decoration technique in which design elements are formed of lacquer and foundation material in relief. Gold or silver powder is sprinkled on their surface. As pictorial elements executed in this technique are raised off the ground, it is called “high sprinkled picture.”
Mother-of-pearl work