Masterpieces of KNM

European-style Chest with Plant, Bird and Animal Designs in Mother-of-Pearl Inlay

European-style Chest with Plant, Bird and Animal Designs in Mother-of-Pearl Inlay

This chest is an example of "Nanban (Southern Barbarian) lacquerware," produced for the European market. The semi-cylindrical lid is hinged onto a rectangular body, onto which have been added metal locks and handle hardware.

The lid and body of this chest are decorated with designs of birds and animals, including cranes, peacocks, tigers, paulownias, maple, Chinese bell flowers, bush clovers and wild chamomiles. These motifs are executed in mother-of-pearl inlay, flat gold and silver maki'e, and pinpoint incisions on a black-lacquered background.

The great number of existing examples suggest that a large number of such export chests were produced to order for Europeans.

Height: 61.3 cm
Width: 51.9 cm
Length: 91.3 cm
Momoyama Period (16th Century)
HK 31
Kyoto National Museum

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