Black lacquer with decorations in ground gold, pear-skin sprinkling, line drawing, omitted line drawing, and needle drawing; metal rim and lattice work metal cover
3 1/4 x 3 7/8 in. (8.3 x 9.8 cm)
Rogers Fund, 1912 (12.134.29)
With the rise of the warrior class to political power in the Momoyama period (1573–1615), a new style of lacquer ware called Kodaiji maki-e evolved. This technique included sprinkling of metal powder on lacquered architectural elements, tableware, and other types of objects that had not previously been decorated with maki-e (decoration of gold and/or silver sprinkled powder). The style originated in Kyoto, at the Kodai-ji temple, dedicated to the warlord Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1536–1598). His wife, O-ne, erected the temple to commemorate her husband. The temple's furnishings, which have black-lacquered surfaces decorated with autumn grasses in the maki-e technique, represent the quintessence of the new style. The delicately executed incense burner represents a later period and style of Kodaiji maki-e.
An autumn grasses pattern is depicted all around the body of the incense burner. The design includes chrysanthemum, bush clover, tail flower, arrowroot, pink, bellflower, and maiden flower. The seven grasses of autumn are mentioned in the earliest court anthologies of the Heian period (794–1185). Autumn comes with a certain sadness at the passing of summer days and the anticipation of cold winter, but nonetheless represents the beauty of changing nature.