Japanese Lacquer Decorative Box

Cinnabar Lacquerware, Edo Period 19th Century


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Creating an alluring and engaging space with interesting decorations can be a lifelong pursuit. Table boxes and small decorative objects like this antique Japanese lacquerware seal paste box is an alluring object that is old, full of alluring texture, and time staking handcrafted design and decoration that is over 170 years old.

After the approach of Buddhism in Japan, lacquer production became an important industry. From that time forward, lacquerware and the techniques used in the creation of lacquerware developed with the Japanese culture. During the Nara Period (710 – 794), the Maki-e decoration technique developed, in which gold dust is sprinkled with gold and dust on the lacquer surface. Carved lacquerware, also known as Qidiao, was originally a Chinese form of lacquerware.

This style of carving was first seen in the Southern Song (1127–1279) and is often called Tixi or Guri lacquer from the Japanese word for the ring-pommel of a sword. This example is a cinnabar lacquer which uses a red mineral to dye the lacquer. These types of lacquerware are often used on small boxes and jars with covers such as the circular seal paste box provided here.


This object measures 3.2 inches in diameter.


The edge of the box displays an oxidation crack and light surface wear consistent with the age of this item.

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