Japanese Hand-Painted Lacquer Binding, A; On a Photograph Album

A Rare and Beautiful Japanese Lacquer Binding

[JAPANESE BINDING]. A Japanese Hand-Painted Lacquer Binding on an unused Photograph Album. [Japan: c. 1900, end of Meiji-era]. 10 5/8 x 15 3/8 inches (270 x 393 mm).

Silk-string bound black lacquered wooden boards, beveled, with central hand-painted scene of Chinese taste-houses and temple in a mountainous countryside in red, white, gray, pale blue, green, and gold, with mother of pearl onlays to rooftops and snow peaks, the whole bordered in maki-e gold. Foliate painted frame with red and white painted grapes. Brown alligator skin joints and backstrip. Illustrated rice-paper endleaves. Twenty-four blank charcoal gray cardstock leaves with tissue guards. Small chip to lacquer at lower right corner of upper board, otherwise a very fine example.

An extremely attractive blank photo album, never used, and a lovely potential gift to another or to yourself to preserve treasured memories.

The sap of the lacquer tree, today bearing the technical description of "urushiol-based lacquer," has traditionally been used in Japan. As the substance is poisonous to the touch until it dries, the creation of lacquerware has long been practiced only by skilled dedicated artisans.

As in other countries where lacquerware has traditionally been produced, the process is fundamentally quite basic. An object is formed from wood, sometimes leather, paper, or basketry. Lacquer is applied to seal and protect the object, and then decoration is added. Generally, three coats (undercoat, middle-coat, and final coat) are used, the final coat sometimes being clear rather than black lacquer, in order to allow decorations to show through.

Alongside the red and black lacquers, it is common to see the use of inlay, often seashells or similar materials, as well as mica or other materials. The application of gold powder is known as maki-e, and is a very common decorative element. Item #02774

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