Maki-e Lacquered Sakazuki Sake Cup

Japanese traditional Maki-e lacquered Sake cup

By Tachibana Museum

By : Tachibana Museum

Sake cup with sugoroku board game design (Supplemental) (19th century, Edo-Meiji period) by KōryusaiTachibana Museum

Sakazuki Sake Cup From the Collection of the Tachibana Family

Sakazuki is a container that is used for drinking Japanese sake. Gorgeous Sakazuki, such as those coated with Urushi lacquer and those decorated by Makie, were made for Samurai and Daimyo classes in the Edo period.

Sake cup with design of an enchanted land and family crest (1787) by Iizuka ToyoTachibana Museum

This sake cup is coated with lacquer in vermillion, and decorated with gold Maki-e design on the inner surface. It depicts tortoises and bamboo with raised sprinkled metal and the Tachibana family’s crest ‘Gion-mamori’ with flat sprinkled metal. They are auspicious motifs expressing an enchanted land.
There is a foot ring on the bottom of the cup, in which it bears an inscription “Kansho-sai, at the age of 63”. Kansho-sai is the pseudonym of Iizuka Toyo who was a skillful craftsman employed by the Hachisuka family of the Tokushima domain. The wife of the lord of the domain, Princess Tsute, was a daughter of Tachibana Sadayoshi, the 5th lord of the Yanagawa domain. Therefore, this cup was possibly a gift from the Hachisuka family on a festive occasion of the Tachibana family.

Sake cup with sugoroku board game design (Supplemental) (19th century, Edo-Meiji period) by KōryusaiTachibana Museum

This wine cup has a rare design featuring a board game ‘sugoroku (Japanese backgammon)’ on the exterior surface. The spirally arranged design is executed in hira maki-e (flat sprinkled metal decoration) on the vermilion lacquered surface. It depicts celebrated places in Edo (modern Tokyo) from the start of the Nihonbashi Bridge to the completion of the Ote-mon Gate of Edo Castle.

The creator, Kōryusai is considered to have been a 19th-century maki-e artist, but the details of his career are unknown.

Sake cup with maki-e design of carp in waves (19th century, Edo period) by Shirai KakosaiTachibana Museum

This vermilion lacquered wine cup has a taka maki-e (high-relief sprinkled metal design) of a carp in waves on the interior surface.
It is considered to be a gift from some superior.

Sake cup with maki-e design of Sumida River (19th century, Edo period) by Shirai KakosaiTachibana Museum

This wine cup is considered to be one of the famous landscape series cups, given from a superior.
On the vermillion lacquered surface, the scene of a ferryboat crossing the Sumida River is depicted in flat and raised maki-e (sprinkled metal design).
Above the ferry boat, Masaki Inari Myo-jin Shrine can be seen, and Mt. Tsukuba is visible in the distance. On the right is Suda-zutumi dike.

Sake cup with maki-e design of Echigo-ya (19th century, Edo period) by attributed to Heisensai JoukyuTachibana Museum

The biggest kimono draper’s shop, Echigo-ya, is depicted by hira maki-e (flat sprinkled metal decoration) and kanagai (foil inlay) on the vermilion lacquered flat cup. On the outer side of the cup, it bears the creator’s inscription, ‘平川斎 (Heisensai)’, with kao (stylized signature).
The luxurious two-story buildings of the shop are shown in the foreground on either side of the Suruga-cho Street in Edo (now Tokyo). The Edo Castle and Mt. Fuji are visible in the distance. In the sky, flying birds are depicted in black lacquer.
The detailed image allows us to see the situation of the inside of the shops and the eyes and noses of the people who are on the street.
The letters written on the sign boards of the shop tell that on the right side is Echigo-ya kimono shop dealing in silk articles, and on the left side is Echigo-ya kimono shop dealing in cotton and others.

Sake cup with maki-e design of Oki-no-ishi (19th century, Edo period) by UnknownTachibana Museum

An offshore view is depicted on the vermillion lacquered flat cup, by using various techniques of maki-e (lacquer decoration) —— The splashes are expressed by silver metal powder, crests of waves are covered with white mitsuda (oil coat), shells are made by mother-of-pearl inlay, and rocks are created with kirikane (cutting foil). A Chinese character ‘乃’ appears on the rock, which is a design called ‘ashi-de’ mixed characters as pictorial elements with motifs inside.
The offshore view continues from the interior to the exterior surface of the cup with a poem titled ‘Oki-no-ishi (Offshore Rocks)’. The poem is adopted from the alternative version of ‘Hyakuninisshu (One hundred Poems by One Hundred Poets)’. The original was composed by Nijoin Sanuki as "My sleeves have not a moment to dry, just like the reefs lying offshore that cannot be seen even at low tide, although no one knows about it". But the first words in the alternative version are changed from “my sleeves” into “my love”.

Sake cup with maki-e design of Oki-no-ishi ode (outside) (1801/1899) by UnknownTachibana Museum

In the Tachibana family, another cup set with the identical name ‘Oki-no-ishi’ as this cup has been passed down as an heirloom. They are huge cups with designs depicting scenes of the original poem by Nijoin Sanuki.
Many wine cups with motifs taken from waka (traditional Japanese poetry) were produced in Kyoto; and the thick wooden lacquer ware like this example is one of the characteristics of Kyo-shikki (lacquerware produced in Kyoto). From these, it is considered that the Tachibana family ordered this cup in Kyoto for the purpose of regular use by miniaturizing the huge original cup set.

Tortoise-shell sake cup with design of hawk on plum tree (19th century, Edo-Meiji period) by UnknownTachibana Museum

The hawk is depicted in taka maki-e (high-relief sprinkled metal design), while the plum tree is in hira maki-e (flat sprinkled metal design) on the tortoise-shell cup.
This exquisite wine piece is believed to have been made for a special order by one of the lords of the Tachibana family.

Sake cup, named Ukamuse (19th century, Edo period) by UnknownTachibana Museum

An original Ukamuse cup, with a capacity about seven and a half times larger than a normal size wine cup, was kept in a famous Japanese restaurant ‘Ukamuse-tei’ in Osaka in the Genroku period (1688-1704). This renowned restaurant, where many celebrities visited, kept various unique wine cups. When a customer requested sake in large-sized Ukamuse cup, the owner himself appeared in hakama (traditional trousers) with a paulownia box. He took out the inner lacquer box from the paulownia outer box in a courteous manner. The inner box had maki-e design of a Japanese waka poem which contains the term ‘浮瀬 (Ukamuse)’. He then took out the huge Ukamuse cup made of an abalone shell from the inner box and offered a cup of sake to the customer. If the customer could drink it all, the name of the person would be listed in the restaurant’s record.

Since the Ukamuse cup was extremely famous at that time and a restaurant with the same name ‘Ukamuse’ was opened in Edo (modern Tokyo), many similar cups made of a normal-sized abalone shell were reproduced. The cup here in the collection of the Tachibana family is considered to be one of them.
Most of the cups have similar designs with rocks, waves and characters ‘浮瀬’; the rocks are depicted with taka maki-e (high-relief sprinkled metal), the waves are with hira maki-e (flat sprinkled metal), and natural holes of the shells are filled with rust lacquer.

Credits: Story

Tachibana Foundation

TAKAO Yo "Maki-e Sake Cup" - Art of YanagawaⅡ‐ Yanagawa city 2007 

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