Category Archives: Antiques

Inro: a functional art

A circular inro decorated with an Eastern dragon

Inro are small containers that could be roughly described as the handbags or pouches of ancient Japan. They had both practical and esthetical value. Though they usually were square, round or polygonal in shape, a variety of special animal shapes also exist. Over time, these containers came to be extremely luxurious and extravagantly decorated gadgets.

Komai metal inlay jewellery

A lacquered wooden jewellery box with 3 Komai metal inlay bracelets.

Metal inlay jewellery is created through a process called damascening. It involves inlaying a steel ground with thin threads of gold and silver. The ground is then sealed through either oxidisation or via use of lacquer.
The Japanese term for damascene work is zogan (象嵌). The latter encompasses not just metal inlay, but can also describe other inlay techniques. One such example is Gohon Mishima ware, which refers to a type of pottery that is decorated via an inlay technique. In the case of Mishima ware, the material used as both a ground and inlay is clay. Another example is Shibayama inlay (Shibayama zogan), which describes lacquer inlayed with shell, coral, tortoiseshell and ivory.

Samurai Art Expo, Utrecht, 15-17th June 2018

Samurai Art Expo celebrated the best of Japanese Samurai Arms, Armour and fine art at Jaarbeurs event venue in Utrecht, the Netherlands.

Journalists, art collectors, Japanese culture fans and the public were invited to the expo, which was a unique new international antiques exhibition of Japanese art, illustrating the history and culture of Samurai-era Japan, organised by a team of experts from Asia, Europe, and Americas.

Katsushika Hokusai exhibition and event at Embassy of Japan in the UK, London, June 2017

冨嶽三十六景 尾州不二見原 Fujimigahara in Owari Province (Bishū Fujimigahara), from the series Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji (Fugaku sanjūrokkei)

This year saw the opening of several exhibitions dedicated to the great master Hokusai around London. We were honoured to take part in an exhibition organised by the Embassy of Japan in the UK with a selection of woodblock prints by Hokusai from our collection.