Fantastic maki-e tea caddy with a river scene showing reed and traditional stone baskets (jakago) in takamaki-e on a polished black lacquer ground with fading nashiji decoration (togidashi-e). The skillful use of golden applications and the masterful composition makes this large tea caddy (ô-natsume) not only a visually complex but also a haptically appealing object. Much attention is paid to the rendition of the traditional rock baskets, which where used in ancient Japan to manipulate river beds. Here, the golden baskets are fixated between brown takamaki-e trunks with rough bark and filled with flakes of cut gold leaves. Curly golden lines between them are suggesting the twisting waters of the stream. The inside is coated with silver powder. Rims in gold lacquer. The tea caddy is signed on the bottom in gold: Kinsa-zukuri ('Made by Kinsa').
Kawabata Kinsa V was born in 1915 as Miyoshi in Nara prefecture and learned lacquer at the age of 12 under the fourth Kinsa (Kawabata Taisaburô, 1891-1975) who adopted him in 1941. Miyoshi became the heir of the over 200-years old family tradition when officially changing his name in 1963. His works were regularly exhibited at the National Exhibition (Nitten) and he was honored by the governor of the Ôsaka prefecture for his merits in 1981. There is a popular saying in Japan underlining the importance of the Kinsa lacquer tradition: "Kinsa in the east, Sôtetsu in the west" (Higashi no Kinsa, nishi no Sôtetsu 東の近左、西の宗哲). These words are referring to two of the most influential lacquer traditions in Japan: the Kinsa familiy, which came originally from the eastern Shiga prefecture, and the Sôtetsu familiy, which is from the old capital Kyôto in the west.
The storage box bears Kinsa's original handwriting: Ashi jakago maki-e ô-natsume, uchi gindame ('Large tea caddy with gold lacquer reed and rock baskets, silver coated inside'). The box is signed: Kinsa and sealed: Kawabata.
For reference works see for example Alistair Seton: Collecting Japanese Antiques (2004), p. 260.