The Refined Grace of Lustrous Lacquer
The ingenuity and grace of the ancient craft of lacquerware is celebrated on our journal cover portraying a masterful example of a 19th century Japanese lacquer box made during the Edo or the Meiji period. Selected from a private collection in Kyoto, this box is lacquered in the Maki-e tradition, in which sap from the lacquer tree is sprinkled with metallic powder, such as gold, silver or copper, to create luxurious designs. Over the centuries, craftspeople learned to use this sap, which hardens to a brilliant, hard gloss coating, as a finish to decorate and protect favoured wood and paper objects. These fine lacquered surfaces are evidence of the uniquely human ability to create beauty from unlikely sources.