Kodaiji Makie and Nanban Lacquerware|
January 2 (Tuesday) to February 12 (Monday), 2007
The Collections Hall, Galleries 15/17
This biennial New Year's exhibition features two luxurious makie styles-Kodaiji makie and Nanban lacquerware-that emerged in the Momoyama period (1573-1615). Makie ("sprinkled picture") refers to a technique that uses the adhesive strength of lacquer to affix gold and silver powder onto a surface, which is then decorated with a design. Until the medieval period, this technique was used mostly to decorate furnishings for courtiers. With the rise of the warrior class at the beginning of the early modern period, a lavish new style of lacquerware called Kodaiji makie emerged. This technique included scattering metal powder on architectural elements and tableware, objects, which had not previously been decorated in makie. The name of this decorative style originated in Kodai-ji, the temple that O-ne, the wife of the hegemon Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1536-1598), built in Kyoto to pray for the repose of her husband. Quintessential examples of this style consist of the temple's altar and Hideyoshi's and O-ne's interior furnishings, which have black lacquered surfaces decorated with autumn grasses in the makie technique. At the same time, the Europeans who arrived in Japan-also known as nanbanjin ("southern barbarians")-were captivated by these resplendent lacquerware objects and commissioned Christian ritual utensils, chests, and other furnishings decorated in makie. These lacquered objects made for export to Europe were known as Nanban lacquerware. Although from the same period as Kodaiji makie, Nanban lacquerware differed in appearance, often incorporating mother-of-pearl inlay (J., raden). Treasured as gifts and trade goods in the age of exploration, many Nanban wares were exported to South Asia, the Americas, and Europe.