Carved out of copper alloy with details highlighted in gold.
46 cm wide
21.2 cm deep
42.5 cm high
Wood, urushi lacquer, mother-of-pearl
(Haliotis diversicolor, non-CITES)
From a British private collection
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A very fine Japanese katana kake (刀掛) or "sword stand."
Made of wood, with two upright supports with wide feet to prevent toppling, connected by a center beam and supported by a large board. The whole is finished with black and gold urushi lacquer and then inlaid with mother-of-pearl in shades of white, blue and green.
This work is called Nagasaki raden where ra (螺) means 'shell' and den (鈿) means ‘inlaid.’ This work is typically seen on pieces that are for the export market, yet here it is seen on a quintessentially Japanese piece of furniture.
The mother-of-pearl inlaid decoration shows aquatic scenes with villages near the water and boats. Each side is decorated with scrolling vines and peony roses in a rather Chinese style. The work may well have been done by Chinese craftsmen who were working in Nagasaki.
The stand can hold three swords, one at the top, one on the front, and one on the back. The front and back are offset, so you can see all three when all slots are used.
Some chipped areas, especially on the two feet. Some losses to the mother of pearl inlays at the base. These were filled with black urushi lacquer during an older restoration. Otherwise in pretty good condition, with virtually all the mother of pearl in the main scenes being intact. See photos.
An impressive Japanese sword stand with fine mother-of-pearl inlaid decoration in the Nagasaki style. It is inlaid with thousands of pieces of mother-of-pearl, carefully selected for their luster.
Photos sadly cannot capture the appeal of the sparkle in the light. This piece needs to be seen in real life.
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