Eastern Art Online, Yousef Jameel Centre for Islamic and Asian Art

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Incense box with stylized bats and a crescent moon

Glossary (5)

lacquer, maki-e, nashiji, togidashi, togidashi maki-e

  • lacquer

    Chinese and Japanese lacquer is made from the sap of the lacquer tree, which is indigenous to Eastern China. It is applied to wood as a varnish or for decorative effect. In India and the Middle East, lacquer is made from the deposit of the lac insect.

  • maki-e

    (‘sprinkled design’) generic term for lacquer decoration using powdered metals sprinkled onto wet lacquer to create a design

  • nashiji

    (‘pear skin ground’) tiny, irregularly shaped flakes of gold embedded in amber coloured wet lacquer and then polished to a fine sheen

  • togidashi

    Technique in which the design in metal powders sprinkled over damp lacquer, is permitted to harden, then entirely covered with lacquer and finally after hardening, polished with abrasives to re-expose the design.

  • togidashi maki-e

    (‘sprinkled designs revealed by polishing’) a type of makie in which the sprinkled design is covered with lacquer that is then polished away so that the design reappears flush with the surface


    • currently in research collection

Objects are sometimes moved to a different location. Our object location data is usually updated on a monthly basis. Contact the Jameel Study Centre if you are planning to visit the museum to see a particular object on display, or would like to arrange an appointment to see an object in our reserve collections.


Publications online

  • Japanese Decorative Arts of the Meiji Period 1868-1912 by Oliver Impey and Joyce Seaman

    Japanese Decorative Arts of the Meiji Period

    Incense box (kōgō) of black lacquer with two stylised bats and a crescent moon on the lid in gold leaf and togidashi with metal rims. The interior and base with sprinkled gold flakes on a black lacquer ground (nashiji).

    Stylization is a frequent feature of Japanese art; here two bats have been depicted almost as if they were as round as the moon against which they are silhouetted.

    Lacquer was the Meiji period craft that was least affected by the new markets. The old established craft was, of course, developed by such men as Shibata Zeshin (1807-1891), but only to a minor extent; there were no sweeping changes as there were in, say, metal-work. Works such as this, not intended for sale to a foreign client, retain the high quality achieved by painstaking and slow work, while the decoration is in the finest tradition of maki-e ('sprinkled picture') technique. The wood core of this incense box probably weighs less than six grams.

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