Foreign and Domestic Interest in Lacquers

When Japan opened to the West, the foreign interest in lacquers greatly expanded the industry. As a result, much of the Japanese production deteriorated in quality to supply the demands of the export market. However, fine quality lacquers continued to be made for the more knowledgeable collector alongside these mass-produced wares. It soon became clear, however, that only superior quality lacquers were in demand from the West. As a result, the Meiji authorities controlled the quality of export production, and assisted in the marketing of lacquers in the West. Where lacquerers had previously made traditional objects like inro, netsuke, and swords scabbards for the samurai class, they now turned their talents to boxes, vases, trays, and tables popular with the Western collectors.

The sake cup is a symbol of earlier Japanese military traditions, when warriors drank a shot of sake before battle to gain courage.
Vancouver Museum, Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts,

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