November 2020 – Fishing for Compliments

10th December 2020

The star of this newsletter is undoubtedly the shodana or open display cabinet above.  It is remarkable in several ways. Firstly, at 8’ 9” inches, it is considerably larger than most shodana.  Secondly it is not decorated with lacquer, gilding or shibayama inlays but instead relies solely on the carving of the hardwood for impact.  Finally, and most curious of all, is the subject matter.  The cresting has a right whale emerging through openwork, frothing waves, while the uprights are carved with naturalistic sharks and mullet-like fish.  Carp and goldfish abound in cloisonne and metalwork, while whales appear frequently in wood block prints depicting legends, but to find this selection of fish on carved furniture is most unusual.

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