An Edo Period Rustic Lacquer Tray: Folk Craft from Tohoku
mid nineteenth century
diameter: 8 1/4", 21 cm
height: 1/2", 1.5 cm
This small, lightweight, round-shaped tray is a rustic, well-used beauty which is not only highly attractive but also shows fantastically good age.
This serving tray is said to come from Japan's rustic northeast Tohoku area, specifically from Johoji in Iwate prefecture. It is considered to have been made there in the late Edo period (1603 - 1868) so we can assume it was hand crafted sometime in the middle of 19th century.
It is a small, flat, black lacquered tray whose surface is decorated with a large, quickly rendered chrysanthemum which is charming for its crude depiction and its lack of symmetry: notice the slightly uneven size of its petals, its hurried brush strokes and the off-center circle which marks the middle of the tray. Note as well the fairly consistent abrasion and nicks to the surface of the tray both on front and back, which means that this beauty was used to serve many people during its lifetime of service.
This is a simply beautiful object and is a rich connection to old Japan, and one that should be considered by those interested in daily life in Edo period.