Red lacquer inrō
Edo period, 18th-19th century AD
Carved in tsuishū style
The technique of tsuishū originated in Song dynasty China (AD 960-1279). It was developed in Japan during the Muromachi period (1333-1568), mainly for use on large dishes and nests of boxes. To create a lacquer surface of sufficient thickness for carving was a long and painstaking process. Lacquer will only harden when the surface comes into contact with a humid atmosphere. Therefore a large number of thin layers must be built up one on top of the other. During the Edo period (1600-1868), this technique was sometimes used for inrō such as this one. Its design is of the 'Three Friends of Winter' (plum, pine and bamboo).The inrō forms a complete set with its ojime (bead clasp) and netsuke (decorative toggle).
L. Smith, V. Harris and T. Clark, Japanese art: masterpieces in (London, The British Museum Press, 1990)
L. Smith and V. Harris, Japanese decorative arts from (London, The British Museum Press, 1982)