Momoyama to early Edo period, 16th-17th century
Diameter: 50.7 cm
Inscribed on the flat base in black lacquer Todaiji and illegible date
Todaiji Temple, Nara Prefecture
Todoroki Takashi (1938-2016), Tokyo
Negoro lacquer wares were produced in Negoro-ji, the head temple of the Shinai Shingon sect of Buddhism. During medieval times, Negoro utensils were used in shrines and temples related to Negoro-ji for everyday use and for ritual purposes. A very important part of enjoying Negoro ware is what Japanese call "wabi" aesthetic: these utensils are never adorned with excessive decoration that would compromise their functionality, while signs of wear and even flaws can be appreciated by people of refined taste. In fact, the cinnabar red layers of lacquer on these wares are intended to gradually wear away with use, revealing the black undercoat, as evidence that the pieces have lived a long life.
Ewers were produced in a great variety of forms, depending on how they were used. Round ewers with a spout (katakuchi chōshi) were generally produced for serving sake but the massive size of this one suggests it might have beed used to provide hot water to a large party. However, as no other large Negoro ewer with metal loop rings is known, we can not exclude it was in fact used for sake.
Todoroki Takashi (1938-2016) was a famous connoisseur of Asian art and collector of Korean ceramics, Buddhist art and Negoro lacquer ware.
Antique original Japanese negoro for sale. Stock number: lacc-1458