Vintage Japanese Kamakura-bori Lacquered To-bako Box | Peony / Botan Motif | 1940 | Showa Period

This Kamakura-bori To-Bako box, made in the Showa period, and features a  bold, deep relief engraving of a Peony with a textured background. Even those with little knowledge of Japan can’t help but notice the prominence of flower symbolism in Japanese culture. Known as the ‘King of Flowers’, the peony or Botan is a symbol of good fortune, compassion and nobility, and is often used in tattoos to signify a devil-may-care attitude. The deep, dark red color with overlaid lacquer is outstanding. After the shaping process, the artist uses dozens of chisels and engraving knives to carve patterns, which it then takes more than 10 steps to lacquer with natural resins. The top is beautifully shaped to fit perfectly to the finely sculptured base and foot. There are sections on the interior of the box with a copper receptacle. Condition: Quality is defined by the amount and level of detailed carving, the number of layers of lacquer, and condition, which as related to this piece is Excellent with no chips, dings or fading. Dimensions: 9-3/4” L x 5-0” w x  2-0” h.

Additional Information —

From the Showa Period (1926-1989) and until now, the Japanese people   refer to the ancient art of assigning meanings to flowers as Hanakotoba. In the Asian culture, presenting flowers to another is not limited to women, and is not done lightly. The underlying meaning of the flower determines the message sent to the recipient. This allows one to communicate feelings and emotions without words. There is no species of tree peony native to Japan. Historians date the arrival of the peonies (known as Botan in Japanese) in Japan to the 8th century. Historians say that it was Kobo-Daishi, one of the most famous Buddhist monks, that was responsible for transporting tree peonies to Japan.

In 1979, Kamakura-bori was designated a Traditional Handicraft by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry. For Historical information on Japanese Lacquer please see our Discovery Section:

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