A hiranatsume (wide tea caddy) of standard form, the turned-wood substrate finished in polished black roiro lacquer and decorated on the top and sides in gold hiramaki-e with swirling waves, the interior of the lid decorated in gold hiramaki-e, gold nashiji, and red lacquer with four chidori (plovers or dotterels) above stylized waves.
Signed on the recessed base with incised characters Itchō saku 一兆作 (Made by Itchō).
Fitted wooden tomobako box inscribed Ryūsui maki-e hiranatsume 流水蒔絵平棗 (Squat tea caddy with swirling waters); signed on the side Itchō saku 一兆作 (Made by Itchō); seal: Itchō 一兆.
One of the best-known maki-e artists working in the lacquering center of Wajima in Ishikawa Prefecture, from 1930 Ichigo Itchō exhibited regularly at a range of official national exhibitions; the somewhat stylized design testifies to the artist’s early formation during Japan’s art deco phase in the 1920s and 1930s, while the pictorial use of nashiji for two of the birds reflects the mid-twentieth century revival of interest in the Momoyama-period (1573–1615) Kōdaiji maki-e lacquering style.
Chidori (literally, “thousand birds”), for many centuries a favored motif especially in lacquer decoration, are small birds usually depicted flying over the sea and conventionally translated as “dotterels” or “plovers.” They make their first appearance in early poetry such as this verse, no. 345 in the early tenth-century imperial anthology Kokinshū (A Collection of Old and New Poems): Shio no yama / sashide no iso ni / sumu chidori / kimi ga miyo o ba / yachiyo to zo naku しほの山さしでのいそにすむ千鳥きみがみ世をばやちよとぞなく(Surely dotterels / that live on the jutting shore / of Salt Mountain / sing 'may your lordship's reign be long').