VIRTUAL COLLECTION OF ASIAN MASTERPIECES

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Inro and netsuke
RKM 24-1913
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Why this is a
Masterpiece

Because of its fine quality handicraft, this inro represents a masterpiece among the Röhsska Museum collections. Per Dahlström, Curator, Röhsska Museum

History of the Object
Before western clothing became fashionable, the Japanese wore the kimono. Because the kimono lacked pockets, necessities such as purses and smoking materials were often hung from a cord around the kimono’s sash, from which a small lacquered wooden storage box called an inro was also hung. It was used to carry medicament from the beginning of the seventeenth century, and later the inro became an expensive fashion accessory and status symbol worn by feudal overlords, samurai and merchants. The production of inros was a handicraft carried out in highly-specialized workshops where master lacquerers experimented with new designs, decorations and materials. The decorations are made while the lacquer is still wet using for example gold and silver powders sprinkled with the aid of a bamboo tube. Designs were created using elaborate inlays in mother-of-pearl, gold leaf and silver leaf using different techniques, layered between new coats of lacquer. The coats of lacquer are as thin as one twentieth of a millimeter, and there may be as many as a hundred layers on one inro. The technique demanded advanced handicraft skills and a master lacquerer with long experience. The lacquering technique has strong associations with China, from whence it originally came.

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Type
Decorative Art 
Materials
Wood, gold, taka-maki-e 
Measurements
Height 7.3 cm  
Creator name
unknown 
Creator date
unknown 
Where it was made
Japan 
Geography
Japan 
Time period
AD 19th century ~ AD 19th century 
Creation date
19th Century; ca 1800 
Function
Box/purse 
Acquisition
Purchased from Prof. Oscar Björk 
Copyright
The Röhsska Museum 
Acknowledgements
 
Owner
The Röhsska Museum 
Museum
The Röhsska Museum, of Design, Fashion and Decorative Arts 
Credit line
 

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