A tsuishu (carved red lacquer) seal box
Kagawa, circa 1850
A tsuishu (carved red lacquer) seal box designed to also function as a manju. A large peony bloom dominates the upper side and is surrounded by buds and foliage that continue on the underside. The multiple layers of red lacquer are carved down to reveal concentric rings of varying shades, emulating wood grain. The interior with a square storage section for the seal is lacquered in mottled shades of brown that call to mind the tarashikomi paint drops of the Rinpa school.
The cord threads through the body of both halves, emerging through a central hole in the underside.
Signed in a rectangular reserve: Zokoku
The production of lacquerware in Kagawa (Shikoku) was encouraged by daimyo, Yorishige Matsudaira (1622-1695) and many artisans took up residence the area. Zokoku Tamakaji was born in Takamatsu in 1806, but at the age of 20 he moved to Kyoto to study with various painters and lacquerers and had the opportunity to research Chinese lacquer techniques, then bringing his knowledge to Kagawa and helping to seal its reputation as a major lacquerware producing area.