Ippyōsai VII (*1942)

Maki-e Tea Caddy with Maple Leaves and Cherry Blossoms

Inv. Nr. #19.019
Date Late 20th Century
Material Black and red lacquer, maki-e and silver on wood
Dimensions H 5,8 x Diam. 8,3 cm

Comes with fitted wooden box, inscribed and sealed. With appraisal by Hōunsai (*1923).

Price: EUR 6,500

Excellent tea caddy (natsume) made by the 7th Ippyōsai, Ippyō Eizō (*1942). The exterior is finished in polished black lacquer (roiro) and decorated in gold maki-e with an all-over pattern of maple leaves and cherry blossoms. The cherry blossoms are executed in either gold or red lacquer, while the maple leaves are executed in gold maki-e with fine veins. Some of the leaves appear to have a slight greenish tint and may be made of a material called aokin, an alloy of gold and silver. The interior and base are coated with silver. The rims are painted gold.


The combination of cherry blossoms and maple leaves can be traced back to a compositions of the famous Kyoto ceramic artist Ogata Kenzan (1663-1743). Kenzan created the composition based on a poem about the Tatsuta River from the poem anthology Kokin Wakashū (ca. 905), in which the poet compares fallen autumn leaves floating on the river's water to gold brocade and the cherry blossoms of the Yoshino Hills to white snow flakes. The unusual composition combines symbols of both, spring and autumn while evoking two famous landscapes of Japan (meisho).  

Ippyō Eizō was the 7th generation of one of the leading families of lacquer masters in Kyōto. He studied under his father, Ippyōsai VI (1908-2001) and Shimizuya Kōmin. Ippyōsai VII is particularly known for his excellent ability to create complex compositions on the three-dimensional space of a natsume tea caddy. His workshop is currently run by the 8th Ippyōsai, his daughter Ippyō Ryō.


The wooden box, made of paulownia wood (kiri), is signed underneath: Makie-shi Ippyōsai and sealed Ippyōsai. Inside the box's lid is an appraisal by the 15th grand master of the Urasenke tea ceremony school, Hōunsai (*1923): Unkin hira-natsume, Konichi. He also wrote his kaō in red lacquer in the inside of the tea caddy's lid.


This work is made with the highest precision and takes several months for the lacquer master to complete. Every motif between the body and the lid fits seamlessly together. This stunning masterpiece comes in absolute mint condition with full documentation.