Vintage Japanese Kamakura-bori Hand Mirror | Kagami | 1957

This is a Kamakura-bori style hand mirror, (kagami). Kamakura-bori objects are first carved of wood, (katsura) or (gingko), in varying shapes and motifs, and then surfaced with lacquer, (urushi), dozens of times to obtain the richness and depth of color. The Japanese taste was for simpler and quieter themes, and in this case, abstract Japanese plants and flowers are featured in the patterns with beautiful high relief detailing.

The origins of Kamakurabori lacquerware are considered to be the carved lacquer techniques of “tsuishu”, (red lacquer), or “tsuikoku”, (black lacquer), that came from China along with Zen Buddhism, in the Kamakura period. It was not until the beginning of the Meiji period, however, that everyday articles in Kamakura lacquerware started to appear. This particular piece was purchased in Kyoto in the 90’s and was made in 1957 according to the paperwork, and the box accompanying the piece.

Kamakura lacquerware has some very special qualities that cannot be found in any other lacquer objects. The method which emphasized the three-dimensional effect of the carving by applying black ink called makomo sumi on the vermillion lacquer is just one of these. The bold patterns of the carving are strongly expressed by the unique carving techniques. The maker’s signature and title can often be found on many fine quality kamakura-bori mirrors.

The mirror is in beautiful, mint condition, illustrating deep carving of the lacquer. It has the original beveled mirror, and applied signature. Dimensions: 13-1/4” L x 5-3/4”w.

Historical Information —

Japanese Mirrors, (Kagami), were likely first introduced into Japan almost 2000 years ago through increased contact with China. Japanese mirrors were decorated on the backside with scenes of cranes and sparrows, cherry blossoms, chrysanthemums, and pine. Mirrors began to be designed with handles during the Edo period, (1600-1868), and special vanity stands were created to hold larger bronze mirrors with and without handles. During the Edo period, mirrors became popular as wedding gifts, and many included the family crest, (mon), of the united families.

The mirror, along with the sword and jewels, comprise the three objects of the imperial regalia. For this reason mirror makers like swordsmiths, were often given special titles in honor of their respected craft. The titles can often be found along with the maker’s name on many fine quality kamakura-bori mirrors.

In 1977 the Kamakura-bori Material Museum was founded. In 1979, the Ministry of International Trade and Industry approved Kamakura-bori as a Japanese Traditional Handicraft.

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