Japanese Black Lacquer and Gilt ‘Zushi-dana’ Cabinet
Japanese Black Lacquer and Gilt ‘Zushi-dana’ Cabinet
Japanese Black Lacquer and Gilt ‘Zushi-dana’ Cabinet
Japanese Black Lacquer and Gilt ‘Zushi-dana’ Cabinet
Japanese Black Lacquer and Gilt ‘Zushi-dana’ Cabinet
Japanese Black Lacquer and Gilt ‘Zushi-dana’ Cabinet

Japanese Black Lacquer and Gilt ‘Zushi-dana’ Cabinet

1868 to 1912 Japan

Offered by Thomas Coulborn & Sons

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End of the EDO or TOKUGAWA PERIOD (1603-1868), 1868

This flat-topped, rectangular ‘zushi-dana’ (shelving and storage unit) consists of three tiers. There is a cupboard on the bottom tier and another on the tier above, both occupying half the width of the ‘zushi-dana’ and stacked above each other. They both have a pair of doors. They are accessed from opposite sides, indicating that the cabinet was free-standing. The tier above was used as a tray.

The ‘zushi-dana’ is decorated on all main exterior surfaces with ‘maki-e’ (Japanese lacquer sprinkled on wood) and incised gilt bronze mounts. The design includes: cherry blossom, scrolls and Gyouyou (apricot leaves) crests. The owner of this cabinet would have been Hirohime (1851-1919). Her father was Nabeshima Naomasa (16 January 1815 – 8 March 1871), the 10th and final daimyō of Saga Domain in Hizen Province, Kyūshū, Japan. Hirohime was from the Nabeshima family and she married Hosokawa Morihisa (1839-1893), fourteenth-generation family head, Governor of Kumamoto and the son of Narimori in 1868.

During the Edo period (1615-1868) in Japan, ‘kazari-dana’ were a type of decorative and functional shelving unit in the home. The most superior of these were the ‘san-dana’, a set of three shelving units, which consisted of sets of three separate pieces: the ‘zushi-dana’; ‘kuro-dana’; and ‘sho-dana’, which were decorated in high quality lacquer decoration. These formed part of elaborate wedding sets and were a crucial accessory in the dowry of a wealthy bride. The decoration included the family crests, known as ‘mon’, of both the bride’s and the groom’s families. The ‘zushi-dana’, of which this is an example, was the most ornate and elaborate of the three shelving units and is a case with double doors which was used for toilet articles. It incorporated matching boxes and other accessories. Originally ‘zushi-dana’ were originally exclusively for elite families but, during the latter part of the Edo period, they were also used by the merchant class. The three types of cabinet are shown from left to right: a zushi-dana; a kuro-dana; and a sho-dana - in an image on the Seison-kaku website, a villa and a National Cultural Asset in Kanazawa (http://www.seisonkaku.com/english/tenjisitu/meihin2.html).

Miyeko Murase illustrates a ‘kuro-dama’ in ‘Japanese art: selections from the Mary and Jackson Burke Collection’ (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1975, p.335), dating from the early Edo period (early seventeenth Century). It is identifiable as a ‘kuro-dana’ rather than a ‘zushi-dana’ as, unlike our stand, this has completely open side panels.

This ‘kuro-dana’ demonstrates the Momo-yama period decorative style: ‘a simple motif depicted boldly and clearly, reduced to essential details, and in striking contrast of gold against black’ (ibid, p.332). This style of decoration is also used on our cabinet.

*Daimyō: ‘Daimyō’ is a generic term referring to the powerful territorial lord in pre-modern Japan who ruled most of the country from their vast, hereditary land holdings. The term ‘dai’ literally means ‘large’, and ‘myō’ stands for ‘myōden’ meaning private land. The daimyō were the most powerful feudal rulers from the 10th Century to the early 19th Century in Japan following the Shogun.

A cabinet shrine or ‘zushi’ was first used to store writing materials or books belonging to Japanese court nobles in the Heian period (794 to 1185). The ‘zushi-dana’ was devised when shelves were attached inside the ‘zushi’.

Comparator: The Pauline Gandel Gallery of Japanese Art at the National Gallery of Victoria has a Zushi-dana dating from the mid Edo period (early 18th Century, lacquer on wood (maki-e), metal).

We are grateful to Professor Tomio Koike for his assistance with preparing the notes for this item.
Made for Hirohime (1851-1919), daughter of Nabeshima Naomasa (16 January 1815 – 8 March 1871), the 10th and final daimyō of Saga Domain in Hizen Province, Kyūshū, Japan. Probably a wedding piece on her marriage to Hosokawa Morihisa (1839-1893) in 1868. Hosokawa Morihisa was the fourteenth-generation family head, Governor of Kumamoto and the son of Narimori.
Bibliography: Miyeko Murase, ‘Japanese Art: Selections from the Mary and Jackson Burke Collection’ (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1975).
Dimensions
Height 79.00 cm (31.10 inches)
Width 103.00 cm (40.55 inches)
Depth 39.50 cm (15.55 inches)
Stock Code
6370
Medium
Lacquer (‘maki-e’ - Japanese lacquer sprinkled on wood) and incised gilt bronze mounts
Thomas Coulborn & Sons

Thomas Coulborn & Sons
Vesey Manor
64 Birmingham Road
Sutton Coldfield
West Midlands
B72 1QP
England

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