This item is a Bento (弁当, lunch box). This Bento has a gorgeous appearance, painted entirely in black lacquer and decorated with the Makie (蒔絵) technique. The Makie is a typical Japanese lacquer art technique developed uniquely in Japan for about 1,200 years. Firstly, it needs to draw a picture with lacquer on the surface with a thin brush. Next, sprinkle the gold powder from above to show the pattern before the lacquer hardens. This technique makes a gorgeous and elegant look to works, as seen in this Bento.
The motifs depicted on this Bento are auspicious plants. Your attention is probably first drawn to the large peony flowers. Peony represents happiness, wealth, nobleness, and gorgeousness. This flower pattern has been treated as a kind of good-omen motif; people regarded it as a rich harvest sign. A peony is called the Botan (牡丹) in Japanese. Its second letter means mountain hermit medicine that would give us eternal youth. Based on the meaning of this letter, the peony pattern symbolizes eternal youth and longevity.
Next, you would find cherry blossoms are designed next to peony flowers. Cherry blossom is well known as a seasonal thing of spring, and it has been loved for a long time in Japan. Its pattern is designed for sword mountings, the Kimonos (着物, traditional Japanese costume), or furnishings. One theory says that the god of grain exists in cherry blossoms. Therefore, this flower pattern has been treated as the symbol of a plentiful harvest. In ancient times, people held a traditional custom under cherry blossom trees to pray for a bumper year. It is said this is the origin of the cherry blossom viewing picnic today.
Focusing on the top of this box (surface with a handle attached), you would see Japanese apricot blossoms here. The entire Bento box is decorated with black lacquer and gold Makie. However, some petals, such as peonies and Japanese apricot blossoms, are painted red, giving it a luxurious look. We could also see bamboos designed at the side of this box. Finding by these plants, we are reminded of the the Shouchikubai (松竹梅). It combines pine trees, bamboos, and Japanese apricot blossoms. This motif is one of the classic Japanese designs. Several theories about its meaning are as follows: longevity, power of perseverance, vitality, etcetera. Even today, it is widely cherished as a lucky charm in Japan.
If the object is just for storing things, a simpler-designed box or plain box could also serve as a storage case. However, the occasion where such highly decorative utensils were used was probably a special meal, and this Bento box might have been used for some anniversary or celebration. We believe it is suitable for displaying in your room as interior decoration and would add color to your room.
*As this item is an antique, please check each photo and ensure its condition.
Samurai Museum is located in Tokyo, Japan, exhibiting antique artifacts related to the Samurai history. Samurai Museum Shop is the place for those who are interested in Japanese culture and craftsmanship. We deal with antique Samurai swords/armor, traditional crafts made in Japan and so on.
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【How to make sure the condition】
Please keep in mind that what you are going to purchase is an antique item. We uploaded high resolution photos for you to check its condition thoroughly. If you like to see more photos with different angles, please feel free to contact us. We will be happy to send them to you so that you can make informed decision.
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