The lidded koro (incense burner) in the shape of a temple bell and brilliantly lacquered in sabiji-nuri to imitate the patinated iron of the old bell. This imitation is enhanced by the reddish hues shown on the surface. The handle is in the shape of two confronting fishes and shows pierced holes underneath for the smoke to escape. The inside is lined with metal to hold the burning incense. The sides are finely decorated with flying tennin (Buddhist angels) arranged in rectangular reserves. The base and interior with fine and dense gold nashiji. Signed ZESHIN next to one of the reserves containing the flying tennin.
HEIGHT 9.4 cm
Condition: Excellent original condition with no restoration or polishing whatsoever! Minor wear and very few traces of use, tiny natural age cracks at the handle.
Provenance: Acquired at Christie’s Japanese & Korean Art, 23 March 2011, New York, lot 802 (Hammer price 30.000 USD).
Shibata Zeshin (March 15, 1807 – July 13, 1891) was a Japanese lacquer artist and painter of the late Edo period and early Meiji era. He has been called “Japan’s greatest lacquerer”. He was known for his techniques in imitating various materials such as bronze or iron – such as shown in the present piece.