By Ueda Chikanao, signed Chikanao 近直 zu圖
Japan, 18th century, Edo period (1615-1868)
Of upright rectangular form, bearing a black-lacquered ground, finely decorated in gold hiramaki-e with highlights of silver and red lacquer to depict a ho-o bird perched on a paulownia (kiri) tree to one side, the other with another ho-o bird flying near peony blossoms issuing from craggy rocks, all within a foliate reserve. The feathers neatly detailed and colored to highlight the plumage of the bird which is further highlighted by kirigane. The rocks, tree trunk, and stems similarly decorated. The clever inclusion of red lacquer in the fruit and flowers further exemplifying the composition. The interior compartments of nashiji with gold fundame edges. Signed underneath in red lacquer CHIKANAO zu [painted by Chikanao]. With a faceted bone ojime.
HEIGHT 6.2 cm, LENGTH 5.3 cm
Condition: Good condition and presenting well. Tiny losses to edges, some losses to lacquer and kirigane, light surfaces scratches, all as expected with this type of early inro.
Ueda Chikanao is mentioned in the Soken Kisho of 1781.
Both the ho-o bird and the paulownia (kiri) tree are imperial symbols of Japan. According to legend, the ho-o, a bird similar to the phoenix that represents the eternal rebirth of the soul, only settles on the Kiri tree. In the hope of attracting this auspicious bird that blesses people with wisdom, health and happiness, the trees are planted in courtyards and gardens.
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