Japanese Antique Cloisonne’ Box

Japanese Vintage Hexagonal Cloisonne’ Trinket Box


Age:1912-1926 (Taisho Period)

Descriptive qualities& condition:

Dimensions: 4”w x 3 ½”d x 1 ½”h           

This very unusual Kyoto-jippo six-sided cloisonné kogo, (incense box), is a treasure, with a beautifully detailed Ho-o, (Phoenix), a bird which is considered an auspicious symbol. The design is very intricate, (note the fine wirework throughout the piece). The colors are different shades of turquoise, mustard, green blues, and purple on the lid. There are chrysanthemum blossoms on the sides with an interesting vine motif. The lid is separate and lifts off having an Emerald-colored enamel finish. The piece is unmarked.

Vintage Condition: Beautiful with the inlay completely intact with slight pitting on the top lid but not enough to cause concern, or detract from the enjoyment of the enamel work or function of the box. “As is”, and has retained the original craft/workmanship. Any discoloration, chipping/cracking, surface wear, or structural damage was noted. 

NOTE: As a general statement, Japanese enamels, (Cloisonné), are unique and exceptionally beautiful, and there is no shadow of a doubt that modern Japanese enamels, in every way, surpass the older Chinese. There are two very distinct styles in the modern enamels; the Kyoto craftsman preferring to work in the true cloisonné, where the design is laid on in gold or copper wire in geometrical or decorative motifs and patterns of bewildering fineness. The Tokyo enameler works on different lines and overall format and produces panels that look like fine paintings on porcelain on monochrome vases, boxes, and other decorative objects, which are considered a triumph of workmanship. Around 1889 we also see Tokyo artisans producing Cloisonné without wires which received prizes in Tokyo, Paris, and Chicago. And, finally, there are the Nagoya workshops, although probably producing more wares than those in the other two cities were often unsigned or at most signed using an ink brush.