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Shokasai gold lacquer inro

Posted: Tue Dec 05, 2017 5:50 pm
by Jordi
A lenticular gold lacquered four-case inro bearing a kinji ground, decorated with the 'Heavenly Weaver' working at a loom, while Toei (Dong Yong) stands on the reverse beside spools of yarn, inlaid with ivory. The inro is signed Shokasai, is 9.5cm high and comes with a really nice ivory ojime lacquered with bamboo stalks and sparrows.

The lacquer work is beautifully done as you would expect from a lacquerer of Shokasai’s expertise. The detail on the loom, stool, brazier and coals and especially the ‘Heavenly Weaver’s’ kimono, is exquisite. The interior is decorated in gold nashiji.

According to Edward Wrangham, Shokasai was a member of the Kakosai Shozan group, who worked in Edo, or according to Meinertzhagen, was a 19th century member of the Jokasai School. This latter view is echoed in Inro and other miniature forms of Japanese lacquer art. The inro are often lenticular and many are decorated in ivory or Shibayama style inlay. Some of the inro are signed by both Shokaiai and Shibayama.

Imagine my surprise when research threw up an almost identical inro of the 'Heavenly Weaver' working at a loom (see final photo below). However, this inro lacks the intricate detail and colour on my inro as well as the clouds with kirikane at the top. Perhaps it was an earlier version, or made for a client of lesser means.

The legend of the ‘Heavenly Weaver’ (the Seventh Daughter of the Jade Emperor), and Dong Yong, on which this inro is based, is enshrined in Chinese folklore, a love story between a goddess and a mortal. You can read it here: http://www.theworldofchinese.com/2015/0 ... nth-fairy/

Re: Shokasai gold lacquer inro

Posted: Tue Dec 05, 2017 11:16 pm
by carlomagno
Thank you Jordi for sharing such a wonderful story and an exquisite piece of art, in my mind is one of the pieces you can imagine a high class lord absort admiring the inro in every particular detail in a quiet sunset in the old Japan.

Re: Shokasai gold lacquer inro

Posted: Tue Dec 05, 2017 11:36 pm
by souldeep
Jordi - long time no hear. Nice to see you post. Especially when such items of art are shared - it's all the more pleasing.

I won't pretend to have a good eye with lacquer, but from a subjective point of view, I find this inro appealing.

Re: Shokasai gold lacquer inro

Posted: Wed Dec 06, 2017 12:15 am
by Jordi
Thanks for your comments Carlomagno and Souldeep I'm glad you both like this inro. That is a very poetic vision you portray Carlomagno, I like it!

Shokasai was considered to be in the top rank of lacquer artists during the late 18th/early 19th centuries so I was very pleased to be able to acquire this inro and the other Shokasai inro I showed in my other New Topic this evening. I haven't been too active this year.

Jordi

Re: Shokasai gold lacquer inro

Posted: Wed Dec 06, 2017 12:25 am
by jbjtennyo
Jordi,
Congratulations on your acquisition. It is a beautiful inro, and the story adds depth to the vision. Thanks so much for sharing it.
I am slow to purchase inro, and so far have but one in porcelain. I do hope to add another specific one, but so far it has eluded me.
Do you have several inro, and do you have lacquer netsuke as well? Thanks for sharing with all of us!

Re: Shokasai gold lacquer inro

Posted: Wed Dec 06, 2017 12:38 am
by chonchon
A lovely object.

Often these classical stories have a Japanese version. In this case the clothes of the nobleman look more Japanese than Chinese, but I cannot recall this exact story in Japanese. Was a Japanese noble in love with a Chinese lady? There are versions in European children's stories. In Japan there is the story of Tsuru no Ongaeshi which is quite similar in many respects, but I cannot see a crane anywhere, except perhaps on the ojime. (?) If it is or was the same story, it has certainly gone through several evolutions.
https://search.yahoo.co.jp/search;_ylt= ... PA&ts=7213

What the inro princess (whose name has the number seven in it) is doing is not weaving, by the way, but embroidery. In the attached Chinese story above we can see some weaving.
In both the Tsuru no Ongaeshi story and also in the Tanabata (7th night of 7th month) story, the girl is definitely a weaver.
Perhaps in your inro, Jordi, we can see her finishing off her weaving, by sewing some gold thread into it, or making minute corrections!

Re: Shokasai gold lacquer inro

Posted: Wed Dec 06, 2017 12:48 pm
by Jordi
Thanks Judy. Yes, I have thirteen inro now acquired over the past few years but just three lacquered netsuke which I have posted on the Forum here:

viewtopic.php?f=494805&t=8079376

viewtopic.php?f=494805&t=8079359

viewtopic.php?f=494805&t=8078190

I will certainly purchase more lacquered netsuke when the opportunity arises (and funds allow!)

Jordi

Re: Shokasai gold lacquer inro

Posted: Wed Dec 06, 2017 1:31 pm
by Jordi
Thanks Piers and yes, now that you mention it, she does look like she could be finishing off the woven cloth with gold thread rather than weaving. Very astute observing! Could it be poetic licence on the part of Shokasai to show the lady in this manner rather than weaving itself and I note your comments on the clothing worn by the man.

I read your story of Tsuru no Ongaeshi but if that was being portrayed on the inro, would it not be a crane at the loom or finishing table rather than a lady. The birds on the ojime are definitely not cranes.

I read the story celebrated at Tanabata of two heavenly lovers, one of whom was a seamstress, Princess Orihime, who wove beautiful
clothes by the heavenly river and married a cow herder at the other end of the Milky Way, but there is really nothing on the inro to suggest it as a possibility as no heavenly river (Milky Way) or even stars.

By the way, if anyone can offer a suggestion as to why the nobleman's hat is tipped as it is, please let me know. Is it falling off as his head leans over, perhaps about to pick up a spool of yarn?

Jordi

Re: Shokasai gold lacquer inro

Posted: Thu Dec 07, 2017 5:08 am
by chonchon
Jordi, run a search on Japanese eboshi hats and there will surely be some of this ‘tipped’ style there for you.

Re: Shokasai gold lacquer inro

Posted: Fri Dec 08, 2017 10:37 am
by Jordi
Thanks Piers.