This Japanese Vintage Hand Carved Cinnabar 夏目 Natsume or Tea Caddy was made in the 1960's, it is about 50 years old according to the sellers from Japan. I do not know enough about lacquerware to judge the age, except to confirm it is real lacquer on real wood and not plastic. It is a very fine piece. It is handmade, hand carved, and a lacquered bamboo piece in heavy relief of flowers and foliage. This is made of beautiful Cinnabar colored tsuishu lacquer on bamboo and is very labor intensive requiring the skill of at least two artists, a wood carver and a lacquer ware artist. The general term for a tea canister or tea caddy is called ‘Chazutsu’ or ‘Chaki’ in Japan. Most often used for the tea ceremony, chaki are classified both by material and shape, as well as by the type of tea preparation thin tea or thick tea for which they are used. This shape is called ‘Natsume’, see more details and history below. It has both lids which is a rare fortune to older vintage pieces. It is not marked and we do not know the makers name. It is most comparable to the type made as Kurakami Kibori or Kamakura Bori. It is in very good condition with no cracks or chips and has appropriate age wear, the relief still very thick. The inside of the caddy is in excellent condition and is the same metal as the inside lid, am happy to email the picture. The pictures have now been resized so they are better visible, and extra close ups have been added to the most recent facebook post. A gorgeous vintage cinnabar jar.
SIZE: Height 4 inches or 10.16 cm, Width or Diameter about 3 inches or 7.62 cm
夏目 Natsume usucha-ki Chazutsu wooden Tea Caddy shape
The name ‘natsume’ 夏目 comes from the natsume or jujube fruit, which some usucha-ki are said to resemble. Broadly speaking, an usucha-ki is a wooden vessel with a lid, designed to hold powdered tea for making thin tea. Traditionally, usucha-ki are hand-carved from wood or bamboo, and usually are lacquered. Strictly speaking, the word natsume should only be used to refer to vessels which have a slightly convex top and body that gradually narrows toward the base, but in practice any usucha-ki may be referred to as a natsume. History of Matsume
A lacquer artist named Haneda Gorō, who lived in the era of Higashiyama Culture and did lacquer work for Ashikaga., Yoshimasa, is credited as the originator of this style of container for powdered tea which at first, as a rule, was black-lacquered. Records of tea gatherings held by Sen Rikyū reveal that he used natsume, and that in his day natsume were used for koicha thick tea. There is tremendous variation among different types and sizes of natsume. Excerpts Above from Wiki
Quote: The most important pottery of the Cha-no-yu is first the Chaire and then the Chawan. It is said that among the military class the most precious possessions were first Tea-caddies, second writings and third swords. For this was the order in which they were presented by the Shogun to one he desired to honour. -- A.L. Sadler.
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