Japanese Carved Kamakura-Bori Lacquer Tea Tray | Showa

This round red and black lacquer tray with hand carved blooming Chrynthanum, (Kiku), and one bud was crafted in a technique known as kamakura-bori and dates to the early 20th century. The multiple layers of color create a deep, rich effect on the low relief carving, adding to the two-dimensional quality of the bottom of the tray. There is a wonderful depth and patina to the richly textured finish, which is a tea ceremony serving tray. The reverse is simply finished with black lacquer in the form of waves. This tray was considered a symbol of good fortune, high honor, and the fall season.

Kamakura-bori is a type of Japanese lacquer ware which consists of carved wood decorated with layers of black and red lacquer which are often rubbed down and polished to achieve a mottled effect so the red lacquer shows through in certain places on the carving. Its uncluttered beauty was highly favored, and most often used for special occasions and important guests. Because of the Japanese preference for “sabi” and “shibui,” the very simplicity and unpretentiousness of this lacquer tray makes it a special favorite among connoisseurs. Condition is excellent, no cracks, fading, and consistent with age and usage. Dimensions: 13-0” diameter, 1-1/2” deep.

Historical Information —

In the Kamakura period, sculptors of Buddhist statues were influenced by the fine arts that were introduced from Song Dynasty China. Along with Zen Buddhism, the arts included lacquer carving (“cho-shitsu”). The origin of Kamakura-bori came about when these sculptors began to make Buddhist altar equipment out of wood carvings with lacquer coating.

In the Edo period, Kamakura-bori was incorporated in tea utensils as the art of tea ceremony became widespread. By the Meiji period, sculptors of Buddhist statues lost their jobs due to the anti-Buddhist movement, but this became an opportunity for many to use Kamakura-bori as a means of survival, utilizing it in everyday handcrafted objects.

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