Cabinet of Drawers with Birds, Flowers, and Court Carriage


Not on view

The Portuguese and Spanish who visited Japan during the Momoyama period were fascinated by the exotic appearance of gold‑decorated lacquer associated with the taste of warlord Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1537–1598). As a result, lacquer commissioned for the European market typically adopted this flamboyant style (Kōdaiji maki‑e). Among the earliest goods exported from Japan, such pieces are known collectively as nanban (Southern Barbarian), the Japanese appellation for foreigners. The form of this cabinet is based on the European vargueno or escritorios, a chest of drawers with a drop front that served as a surface for writing. Its decorative patterns depict Japanese subjects, including a court carriage and courtiers, maple, mandarin orange, and cherry trees, camellia flowers, wisteria branches, and birds. The decorative bands of the borders are embellished with geometric designs.

Cabinet of Drawers with Birds, Flowers, and Court Carriage, Lacquered wood with gold and silver hiramaki-e and mother-of-pearl inlay, Japan

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