A ceremonial lacquer sake flask
17th century, Japan
Height: 33.3 cm Width 20 cm
A ceremonial lacquer sake flask decorated in gold, silver, and black hiramaki-e (low-relief powder decoration), takamaki-e (high-relief powder decoration) and nashiji (gold and silver flake decoration). The shape is conical with a tapering neck. The mouth of the bottle has a small rim. The design is of cranes and mandarin ducks by a stream, with swirling waves which occasionally form tomoe patterns. The eyes of the birds are picked out in black lacquer. The waves have a detailed line pattern, alternating between hiramaki-e and nashiji. The crests of the waves and the edge of the bank are highlighted in silver. Along the bank there are reeds, waterweeds, and seashells. The gold portion of the design has been made to look as if it was poured over the vessel and dripped down, leaving the plain black lacquer base exposed around the bottom. The base is in nashiji.
Soame Jenyns, Deputy Keeper of Asian Antiquities, British Museum (1950-1968)