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Portable tea case

Portable tea case

17th or early 18th century
Wood decor with gold lacquer flakes (nashi-ji) and gold dust in relief (taka maki-e)
H : 35.7 cm ; L : 38.2 cm ; P :22.5 cm
M.C. 4451

The interior of this case for tea utensils, according to the model that remained unchanged throughout the Edo period, is divided in to two floors by a horizontal board; the lower floor is divided in to two compartments, forming almost cubic drawers. A panel that can be completely removed closes the whole thing. These boxes were used to store and carry the essential utensils used to make tea (matcha or maccha), such as a chawan tea bowls, chawandai bowls, and natsume tea powder carriers. The repeated pattern of a triple-leaved asarum caulescens (mitsuba aoi-mon) indicates that this was part of the trousseau of a princess of one of the branches of the Tokugawa clan, as it is one of their emblems (kamon). The Tokugawa Foundation or the City Museum of Osaka keeps very precious chadansu in Japan. That of Osaka, which dates from the beginning of the Edo period, has a lock and metal parts that bear striking resemblance to those of the cabinet of the Cernuschi Museum, but the fluid character and simple decoration of the latter dates it to the eighteenth century.

The exterior and interior are covered with a base of nashiji lacquer; the scene of young pines (wakamatsu), bamboo (take), rocks and water are treated with various techniques: gold lacquer and embossed silver in relief (Takamaki-eII), with the leaves of the plants in very light relief (usuniku takamaki-e). Gold pieces (kirikane) were scattered along the tree trunks and rocks. This decor, which runs on all four sides of the box, and inside the drawers, is found on other parts of the trousseau, as it was customary to match the decor of all component parts of a set, based on selected topics in classical literature, such as an episode of the Tale of Genji, the famous novel by Murasaki Shikibu, written in the eleventh century. The interior and the parts hidden by metallic elements have a slight orange tint, which has faded under the effect of light on the outer surface of the cabinet.

Auteur de la notice : Michel Maucuer
Collection : Japanese decorative arts
Mode d'acquisition : Bequest of Henri Cernuschi, 1896.

Portable tea case
© Musée Cernuschi