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Enquiry from Online Galleries regarding "Japanese Sawasa Oval Hinged Tobacco Box"
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Decorated on a gold ground in black lacquered chiseled appliqué with an oriental landscape consisting of pagodas and branches of cherry and plum blossom. The sides with continuous decoration and the interior gilded
Late 17th - Early 18th Century
Size: 3cm high, 10.5cm wide, 8cm deep – 1 ins high, 4 ins wide, 3 ins deep
Commissioned by the Dutch East India Company these tobacco boxes imitated a European shape, but were decorated in oriental style, and as the Japanese, who were accustomed to catering for Asian markets, regularly copied the Chinese and their products, it is now difficult to determine whether a tobacco box was made by a Chinese or Japanese craftsman.
The V.O.C. Director of Bengal, Jan Albert Sichterman (1692-1764) owned a large collection of Sawasa and the auction catalogue of his estate listed 29 Sawasa objects 'beautifully and artfully worked black with gold and with raised chiseled relief of Japanese composition'. Sawasa boxes described as 'Tonkinese wares' are also found in the famous Dutch Royal Cabinet of Curiosities.