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Lacquered Manju Netsuke

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Jordi
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Lacquered Manju Netsuke

Postby Jordi » Wed Apr 19, 2017 4:13 pm

While I own a few Katabori, manju and kagimabuta netsuke, my main interest lies in Japanese lacquer work, hence my collection of lacquered inro and the lacquered hako netsuke I posted a while ago. This is my latest purchase, a lacquered manju netsuke dating from the 19th century, either late Edo or early Meji, with double-sided flower motifs, the petals curling around the sides to top and bottom.

Research tells me that the lacquer technique used here is Suri-hagashi-nuri or rubbed-off lacquer. This is sometimes called tortoiseshell lacquer, and consists of a finished coat of black lacquer, on which a thin coat of red lacquer is applied. This is rubbed off in places with charcoal so as to expose the black lacquer, the edges being carefully gradated. It is then finished and polished in the usual manner. The Suri-hagashi-nuri techique is known from as early as the 17th century.

Gold dust was sprinkled over the red lacquer on this manju netsuke, mainly on the inner and outer extremities of the petals. You can clearly see where the red lacquer has been carefully rubbed away around the edges of the petals top and bottom, exposing the black lacquer underneath and then finished and polished. The same technique was used on the peg. The overall result is most attractive. The manju is in fine condition with no damage or flaws. It measures 4.3cm across and 1.2cm high.

Jordi
Attachments
Lacquered manju_1a.jpg
Lacquered manju_2a.jpg
Lacquered manju_3.jpg
Lacquered manju_4.jpg

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Tama
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Location: Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Re: Lacquered Manju Netsuke

Postby Tama » Wed Apr 19, 2017 4:32 pm

Lovely Jordi, you have a good eye for quality!

Jordi
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Re: Lacquered Manju Netsuke

Postby Jordi » Wed Apr 19, 2017 5:45 pm

Thanks Jill! Glad you like it. :)

carlomagno
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Re: Lacquered Manju Netsuke

Postby carlomagno » Wed Apr 19, 2017 7:28 pm

I like the carving Jordi. Regarding the lacker technique the application of gold dust on the point of the leaves makes me think if the carver consider the evolution of the layers as part of the technique? In some lackered pieces I own I have that feeling.Have you been able to connect the piece with some period and school?
Nec spe nec metu

Jordi
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Re: Lacquered Manju Netsuke

Postby Jordi » Wed Apr 19, 2017 9:22 pm

Thanks Carlomagno. I'm finding it difficult to get much information on the suri hagashi-nuri technique. In this instance, the artist must have applied the black lacquer, then the red lacquer, sprinkled the gold dust and then rubbed off the red lacquer in places as seen as there is no gold dust on the underlying black lacquer on the petal edges.

I've found a number of inro using this suri hagashi-nuri lacquer technique as shown below (taken from a book on Japanese Lacquers but alas, no images):
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________
INRO. Long and hexagonal. Red and black lacquer ground (suri-hagashi). Decoration, gold lacquer and mother-of-pearl in relief. Fern shoots, and E quisetum. 17th century.
Lent by Mr . M. Tomkinson.

INRO. Ground to imitate canvas. Decoration in low relief. Tortoiseshell and suri-hagashi lacquer. Kara-shishi and peonies. Cord guides of silver, and risers lacquered to imitate shi-bu-ichi. 17th century.
Lent by Mr. W Harding Smith.

INRO. Ground, red and black lacquer in streaks (imitating suri-hagashi). Decoration, gold lacquer, gold foil and mother-of-pearl. Flowers of orchid. Signed KOMA Kiuhaku. 18th century.
Lent by Mr . E . Gilbertson.

SAGE-JO. Picnic box. The frame of red, green and yellow lacquer in low relief upon a lacquer base resembling coarse canvas: Chinese bird and flowers on the top, plum blossom at the sides. The nest of boxes of tsuishu, diape red ground, surrounding medallion of mottled lacquer, with engraved pattern, resembling Tsugaru lacquer. The sake-bottle, dark red in relief upon a red “frotté ” ground showing the black base (suri-hagashi). Probably 18th century.
Lent by Mr. Frank Dillon.

FAN-SHAPED TRAY. Red polished lacquer ground, with black markings (to imitate suri-hagashi). Margin of nashiji. Decoration, gold lacquer in low relief; pomegranate and grasshopper.
Lent by Mr . R. Pkene’ Spiers.

Inro. Suri-hagashi lacquer. Decoration, Taka-makiye of various colours, andmo kume; Cock standing on drum. 18th century.
Lent by Mr. E . Gilbertson.
__________________________________________________________________________________________________________

So, little to go on regarding lacquerers who used this technique with the only name mentioned being Koma Kiuhaku, who of course was in the Koma school of lacquerers but the reference for this inro only says 'imitating suri-hagashi' so not sure where that leaves me.

The same book also says that the Koma family frequently used gold, red, or plain black for the linings of their inro instead of nashiji, a fashion adopted by many of their followers. So, with the black and red lacquer and sprinkled gold dust used on this manju, is the Koma school of lacquerers viable here? It's about the only possible lead I have at the moment.
Last edited by Jordi on Thu Apr 20, 2017 10:49 am, edited 2 times in total.

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chonchon
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Re: Lacquered Manju Netsuke

Postby chonchon » Thu Apr 20, 2017 1:28 am

Nor exactly sure what the differences between tsuishu, guribori and suri hagashi in the lacquer world are. That is a most unusual tsubaki camellia (botan peony?) and you are so lucky that the central peg has not been lost.

There is a type of filled flower manju (the original edible manju) called a monaka, a kind of wafer with red bean or ice cream inside. Your Netsuke is close to edible on the scale of manju!
http://www.cuoca.com/item/021302.html

Monaka in general
http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=%e6 ... &FORM=IGRE
Last edited by chonchon on Thu Apr 20, 2017 10:34 am, edited 1 time in total.
Piers

Size is something.

Jordi
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Re: Lacquered Manju Netsuke

Postby Jordi » Thu Apr 20, 2017 9:49 am

Thanks Piers for your comments and links.

So many lacquer techniques, often with similarities, it's hard to know what is being used at times and your comments had me looking closely again at the manju with a magnifying glass. The carving is into the wood with a layer of black lacquer and then red lacquer superposed and partly rubbed off, so suri hagashi.

If the technique used on the manju was guri, then the lacquer layers would be much thicker. Each coloured layer would be made up of many thin layers of lacquer, each having to be smoothed and finished before the next colour was applied. I don't see that here as the grooves cut to form the petals etc. are into wood not multiple layers of lacquer. As the guri lacquer technique was so costly in terms of time and skill, guri lacquer pieces seemingly were rarely produced in later periods.

tsuishu and tsuikoku would be similar to guri, using carved red and black lacquers but single not multiple colours.

All these lacquer techniques were apparently introduced to Japan from China mid 17th century.

Many thanks for your botany expertise and yes, having looked them up, most likely a tsubaki camellia or botan peony, I tend to favour the tsubaki camellia. The peg is very tight and I haven't tried to remove it, nor will I.

Jordi


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