Wood with black and red lacquer; gold leaf application
H. 12 3/4 in. (32.4 cm)
Mary Griggs Burke Collection, Gift of the Mary and Jackson Burke Foundation, 2015
Not on view
Ritual sake bottles, made in pairs, were used in Shinto shrines to offer sake to the deities. Most of these sake vessels are Negoro lacquers. This heishi is black lacquer with butterflies painted in red lacquer. The pattern suggests that the sake vessel might have been used in a Bugaku music and dance performance, where butterflies are common motifs.
Negoro-ware sake bottles, or heishi, were often made in pairs and used in Shinto shrines to hold the sake, or rice wine, offered to native deities.
Most Negoro utensils have a coat of red lacquer applied over a base coat of black lacquer. This example, however, has been covered with black lacquer and then decorated with designs and patterns in red. The raised chrysanthemum pattern that radiates from the spout, and, on the shoulders, the design of two facing butterflies are unusual ornamental features, as most heishi are undecorated. One butterfly is outlined in red lacquer and filled in with short strokes to represent patterns for the wings and body, while the contours of the other butterfly are defined simply by a field of red lacquer. Both designs are highlighted with gold leaf. The design of butterflies suggests that this heishi, which is lightweight and easily carried, may have been used in Bugaku, a type of courtly music and dance performance practiced in Japan since the Nara period, in which butterflies are a common motif. A character in one such work, known as Kotokuraku, is named Heishitori (Wine Bearer).
The construction and design of this heishi are generally consistent with those of other Negoro sake vessels. X-ray photography has revealed that the wood core is composed of two parts that have been cut and hollowed on a lathe and then joined at the shoulders (fig. 37). The spout was carved separately and inserted in the top. GWN
[Miyeko Murase 2000, Bridge of Dreams]
 The mate to the Burke heishi is reproduced in Tanaka Hisao 1987, pp. 191, 233.  Nishikawa Kyōtarō 1978, pp. 44–45.  Kawada Sadamu 1985, p. 307.
Mary and Jackson Burke Foundation , New York (until 2015; donated to MMA)
Richmond. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. "Jewel Rivers: Japanese Art from The Burke Collection.," October 25, 1993–January 2, 1994.
Santa Barbara Museum of Art. "Jewel Rivers: Japanese Art from The Burke Collection.," February 26, 1994–April 24, 1994.
Minneapolis Institute of Arts. "Jewel Rivers: Japanese Art from The Burke Collection.," October 14, 1994–January 1, 1995.
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Tsuji Nobuo et al. Nyūyōku Bāku korekushon-ten: Nihon no bi sanzennen no kagayaki / Enduring Legacy of Japanese Art: The Mary Griggs Burke Collection. Exh. cat., Museum of Fine Arts, Gifu; Hiroshima Prefectural Museum of Art; Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum; and Miho Museum, Shigaraki, Shiga Prefecture. [Tokyo]: Nihon Keizai Shinbunsha, 2005, cat. no. 19.