Maki'e with mother-of-pearl inlay
Pitcher: Each 11.8 x 11.8 x 30.2 cm
Box: 28.2 x 41.5 x 33.5 cm
Momoyama Period (16th Century)
Kyoto National Museum
This set of six pitchers and their box are an example of Nanban ("Barbarian") lacquerware. They were made for export to Europe, possibly to be used for wine.
Other examples of Nanban lacquerware include implements used in Christian ritual, such as boxes for holy bread, holy shrines, book stands, as well as decorative furniture such as coffers, wardrobes, and chess boards. Designs of flowers and birds were inscribed in gold hiramaki'e and mother-of-pearl inlay.
These sake pitchers are excellent examples of typical maki'e lacquerware. Stored in their box over the years, they have been preserved in their original condition and were recently re-imported from England.