Excellent tea caddy (natsume) made by the 7th Ippyōsai, Ippyō Eizō (*1942). The exterior is finished in polished jet black lacquer (roiro) and decorated in gold maki-e with twines of gourds (hisago or hyōtan). Gourds are the very symbol of the this traditional Kyōto lacquer artist, since his name 'Ippyō' means literally 'one gourd'. Therefore, he spend much artistic concentration to give each of the six gourds shown on the natsume an individual layout with taka- and hiramaki-e, mother-of-pearl inlays, golden dots and cut gold leaves. Interior and base in sprinkled gold nashiji. Rims in gold lacquer. Signed underneath in gold: Ippyōsai 一瓢斎.
The image of six gourds is a symbol of good luck, since the expression 'six gourds' (mubyō) is a homophone and can also be understood as the expression 'no sickness.' Also, the flourishing vines and the ripe fruits are a symbol for prosperity and representing the birth of numerous descendants, meaning that the family line will never break, and this is considered auspicious. Toyotomi Hideyoshi therefor chose the symbol of 'One Thousand Gourds" as his battle standard. The three stylized gourds can still be seen in the official flag of the city of Ōsaka today.
Ippyō Eizō was the 7th generation of one of the leading lacquer master families in Kyōto. He has studied under his father, Ippyōsai VI (1908-2001), and Shimizuya Kōmin. He is known for his excellent composition on the limited space of a natsume tea caddy. His workshop is now headed by the 8th Ippyōsai, Ippyō Ryō 一瓢良.
The wooden box, made of paulownia wood (kiri), is signed underneath: Makie-shi Ippyōsai 蒔絵師一瓢斎 and sealed. Comes with sealed silk cloth and extra black lacquered cedar box.