Murakami Tsuishu urushi lacquerware

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Murakami Tsuishu urushi lacquerware is a traditional handicraft in which wood-carved reliefs are finished with many layers of thickly coated red lacquer.  The craft began in the Edo period and continues today. Formidable skill is required to produce the elaborate carving and beautiful vermillion color tones.

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It is said that about 600 years ago lacquerware came to Murakami from temple building in Kyoto. Successive lords encouraged the craft and lacquer tree cultivation increased. 270 years ago Murakami samurai Jirou Hyodo spread wood carving and plantings of black sedge within the clan and significant progress ensued. Murakami wood carving was designated a “Niigata prefectural cultural property” in February 1953, and in February 1959, a “national traditional craft”.

The tray below, discovered at a temple market in Osaka,  is a lovely example of the craft.  It measures about 27 cm in diameter and is 2 cm high at the outer edge.

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If you would like to see how Murakami Tsuishu urushi lacquerware is made, take a look at this interesting YouTube video

Please visit my Etsy store to see my collection of vintage and antique Japanese treasures.