This Japanese vintage set of five urushi lacquered wood trays or plates very finely decorated with gold maki-e, see more below. According to the seller from Japan they date to the early 20th century, by style most likely to the 1920s but I cannot be sure they could be older. They are quite unusual and very very beautiful. They are decorated with the botan or flower pattern of peony and with the arabesque pattern all the way around the rim in gold maki-e. They are hand carved wood trays and can be used as plates with appropriate serving, they are dinner plate size. Urushi is one of the most popular lacquers used om Japanese wares, and the entire process takes a lot of hours of work usually between three skilled artisans. The quality of these shows that they were made by very talented artists, I believe from what I understand and the design they are made in by Urushi-hanga or 漆絵版画, developed by Hakuo Iriyama, producing a printing plate from dry lacquer, that was carved and finally used like a block print but instead of traditional printing colors with pigmented lacquer. They do have quite a bit of gold maki-e, They are covered in lacquer- urushi or black tinted lacquer for the trays, and clear over the designs as further explained on the Jishio website below.
This is a very fine set of old Japanese trays or dishes very well done in traditional decor requiring much artistic talent. They are gorgeous. They are in very good condition with the exception of a few spots of wear to the flowers and buds, and one chip on the rim of one tray, please see the pictures. They are perfect for a small party serving tapias, or would be a great set to split up and give as gifts.
SIZE: Diameter 8.26 inches or 21 cm, Height one inch or 0.98 cm
from Jishio on Urushi
Raw urushi is used for base coats, and refined urushi is used for top coats and decoration. The process of producing typical wooden urushi lacquerware has over 20 steps, and more than a hundred individual processes, still done by hand. Even a small object like a bowl can take over 6 months to make. These steps include: seasoning the wood, carving and sanding it to form the object, reinforcing fragile parts with linen cloth for Wajima nuri, applying several base coats of raw lacquer with drying and polishing between each coat, applying several coats of refined black or red lacquer with more drying and polishing between each coat. Finally, decoration such as maki-e can be applied to the still-wet adhesive urushi, or it can remain in its subtly beautiful undecorated state.
Wiki on Maki-e
Maki-e 蒔絵, literally: sprinkled picture is Japanese lacquer sprinkled with gold or silver powder as a decoration using a makizutsu or a kebo brush. The technique was developed mainly in the Heian Period 794–1185 and blossomed in the Edo Period 1603–1868. Maki-e objects were initially designed as household items for court nobles; they soon gained more popularity and were adopted by royal families and military leaders as a symbol of power. To create different colours and textures, maki-e artists use a variety of metal powders including gold, silver, copper, brass, lead, aluminum, platinum, and pewter, as well as their alloys. Bamboo tubes and soft brushes of various sizes are used for laying powders and drawing fine lines. As it requires highly skilled craftsmanship to produce a maki-e painting, young artists usually go through many years of training to develop the skills and to ultimately become maki-e masters. Kōami Dōchō 1410–1478 was the first lacquer master linked to specific works. His maki-e works used designs from various Japanese contemporary painters. Kōami and another maki-e master, Igarashi Shinsai, were originators of the two major schools of lacquer-making in the history of Japan.
Takamakie or ‘raised maki-e’ is one of the three major techniques in maki-e making. Developed in the Muromachi Period 1336–1573, the technique of takamakie involves building up design patterns above the surface through a mixture of metal powder, lacquer, and charcoal or clay dust.
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