Lacquered wood; H. 9 7/8 in. (25 cm)
Purchase, Gift of Mrs. Russell Sage, by exchange, 1980 (1980.6)
This lacquered sake container (choshi) exemplifies the luxurious utensils, paintings, and military accoutrements that filled the grand residences of the Momoyama period. Indeed, this vessel may have been used by the powerful and flamboyant general Toyotomi Hideyoshi (15361598), who unified Japan in the 1590s. Typical of Kodaiji-style lacquers, the container is exquisitely made but relatively simple, in contrast with other more classic lacquer items made by the same workshop.
The strong design of this container consists of two patterns diagonally bisected by zigzag lines; one design is set against a sprinkled gold ground and the other is on solid black. The stunning contrast of the two patternstotally different in color, rhythm, and motifwas much favored around 1600 by artists working not only in lacquer but also in ceramics and textiles.