Kyoto, Japan, Meiji Period (1868-1912)
Eight character inscription ‘Komai Shingakudo (Shinrakudo) of Kyoto’ in the lower area
Extremely fine inlay
Pendant lappets of various finely worked scenes
A continuous vine band and further lappets encircling the shoulder
Height: 13 cm
Very good condition
Provenance: from a German private collection
Elegant vase with richly chased and repoussé worked decoration in gold and silver, made for export
This detailed Japanese iron vase was manufactured by Komai in Kyoto, during the Meiji period (1868-1912) and is decorated with fine inlays of gold and silver. The vase stands on a circular foot rim on which the body with accentuated shoulder rises. The short neck forms a small, elevated lip. The wall of the vase is adorned with extremely fine decorations. Pendant lappets of various finely worked landscape scenes, flowers, birds and a flowering cherry blossom branch are visible. A continuous vine band and further lappets can be seen on the shoulder. Encircling borders are also found on the wall as well as on the neck and the foot. An appealing look and feel is created through the elements in relief and the interplay of colors. The eight character inscription ‘Komai Shingakudo (Shinrakudo) of Kyoto’ is seen in the lower area of the vase.
The iron vase is in very good condition with little signs of age and wear. Only minimal traces of corrosion in the interior are visible and the height measures 13 cm.
The Komai company was presumably founded in 1841, but it was under the direction of Komai Otojiro that the company began to produce its famous works with textured inlays in gold and silver, a technique called nunome-zogan ????. Komai Otojiro became acquainted with various inlay techniques when training under a sword-fitting artisan. From 1873 onwards he began to produce decorative damascened ironware, aimed at the export market. His delicate and highly detailed work was well received abroad and shown at foreign exhibitions, such as the Nuremberg Metalwork Exhibition of 1885. Soon other artisans in Kyoto began to produce similar objects. In 1906 Otojiro’s son took over the company and continued to produce intricate inlaid objects of gold and silver set into iron until 1912. The Komai workshop is considered a pioneer of damascene work and the distinctive style of the Komai family essentially defined the art of metalwork in the Meiji Period.