Kawabata Kinsa V (1915-1999)

Large Tea Caddy with River Scene

Inv. Nr. #18.018
Date Shōwa period
Material Wood, lacquer, gold and silver
Dimensions H 7,5  x D 7,4 cm

Comes with fitted signed and sealed wooden box, sealed silk cloth and extra storage box for protection.

Price: EUR 12,000

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 (ō-natsume) not only a visually complex but also a haptical appealing object. Much attention is paid to the rendition of the traditional rock baskets, which were used in ancient Japan to manipulate riverbeds. Here, the golden baskets are fixed 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 Taisaburō, 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 Ōsaka 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, Sōtetsu in the west" (Higashi no Kinsa, nishi no Sōtetsu 東の近左、西の宗哲). These words are referring to two of the most influential lacquer traditions in Japan: the Kinsa family, which came originally from eastern Shiga prefecture, and the Sōtetsu family, which is from the old capital Kyōto in the west.


The storage box bears Kinsa's original handwriting: Ashi jakago maki-e ō-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.