Okada Hyōkan I  (1904-1969)

Gold Lacquer Natsume with Chrysanthemum

Inv. Nr. #19.020
Date Taishō or early Shōwa period
Material Wood, red lacquer, gold, gold powder
Dimensions H 7,6  x Diam. 7,4 cm

Comes with fitted signed and sealed wooden box, with an appraisal by Urasenke grand master Hōunsai (*1923).

Price: EUR 7,500

Okada Hyōkan I was a Kyōto artist following the tradition of Kimura Hyōsai (1818–1885), founder of the Hyō-school (Hyō-ha) – which is regarded as one of the main schools of Kyōto lacquer (the so called Kyōnuri). His real name was Kawase Shigetarō and he founded his own tradition under the artist name Hyōkan. Today, his workshop, Hyōkan-dō, is working in the fourth generation. The tea caddy presented here is a very rare and excellent early example of the founding father of this important Kyōto lacquer family.


For its creation, a red lacquer foundation has been applied over a wooden core, in which the artist carefully sprinkled finest gold powder. After polishing the surface, the extraordinary color effect is reminding on the color of autumnal leaves turning from golden yellow to deep red. The container's inside is densely covered with gold powder on a black foundation. Rims in gold.


The classic motif of chrysanthemums flowering at a bamboo fence is applied in takamaki-e, giving the decor a three-dimensional effect. The motif refers to the famous "Poem of Homecoming" (Chin. Guiqulaici) by the famous Tang-Chinese poet Tao Yuanming (365–427). The poem describes the poet’s dramatic decision as a government official, frustrated with corruption and politics, to abandon his government career in the city and pursue a secluded, Daoist life of self-cultivation in the countryside. He retreats to his home in the mountains and to the rural life. Thus, the chrysanthemums are often understood as a symbol for the tranquil beauty and pleasure of sincerity. The motif has been very popular also in Japan throughout the history since the Heian period (794–1185).


The tea caddy comes with a fitted wooden box, signed by Hyōkan and sealed: Shisshō Okada Hyōkan zō in. Inside the box's lid is an inscription by the 15th head (iemoto) of the Urasenke tea ceremony school, Hōunsai (*1923): Kiku maki-e dai-natsume, Konichi, and his kaō in red lacquer on the inside of the lid of the tea caddy.