Kobako Incense Box

Vintage Small Japanese Lacquer Kobako Incense Storage Box | 1912-1926



Descriptive qualities& condition:

Dimensions: 4-1/8” w x 5-1/4”l x  1-3/4”h

This is a Kobako, which is an incense storage box used in Kodo which has been ornamented across the top with a design of a snow-covered Mt. Fuji and pine tree. Finished in matte black lacquer and ornamented in gold and silver takamaki-e or raised lacquers which are powdered silver and gold mixed with lacquer and painted. The pine is rendered in billowing clouds of pine needles mounded softly with snow, the gracefully gnarled tree trunk representing textured red bark, which sharply curves under branches in crisp counterpoint. Mt. Fuji is rendered representing sliver snow. The large areas of negative, black space frame the pine tree and Mt. Fuji, and lend the design a stark quality appropriate to winter. The corners of the lid and box have radius edging showing a great deal of attention to the shape of the container and indicating that this is a quality piece. The box is unsigned, but likely the work of a high-level, Kyoto lacquer studio of the Taisho era.

Antique condition: The box is in excellent overall condition particularly related to the lid and artistic detailing with no scratches but with has loss of lacquer on one corner revealing the joining of the wood panel and on one edge of one corner on the bottom of the same panel. Either do not take away from the functional integrity or visual beauty of the piece. Lacquer repair craftsman has stated that it can easily be repaired and at a minimal cost, but we did not want to alter the piece as originally found.

NOTE: Kyoto lacquerware, the Kyoto style Japanese lacquerware, has always been regarded as the most exquisite in all of Japan. The work is completed with great care and attention, even for the smallest detail. With superior design and excellent quality, Kyoto lacquerware is not only beautiful but also very robust. It is said that the history of lacquerware in Japan began in 7000 BC, during the Jomon era. Many traditional crafts and industrial arts produced were influenced by China and afterward experienced various native stylistic innovations over the centuries. Currently, the Japanese government celebrates various Kyoto lacquerware products including ornamental objects, tableware, furniture, and household items that are officially designated by the Minister of Economy as Traditional Crafts.