top of page

A Japanese lacquer sword stand or katana-kake

Late Edo period, 1st half 19th century


H. 43.3 x W. 42 x D. 23.5 cm

The stand has a brown lacquer ground decorated in maki-e. The upper section of the rack shows mountainous landscapes in taka-maki-e with flying black and gold cranes. This scene is most likely a reference to the well-known poem by Minatomo no Yorimasa, which reads: ‘From the beach of Sumiyoshi, gazing through the pine trees at the ocean, the moon casts a shadow over Awaji island.’


The sides and the back of the rack show conspicuously positioned motifs that appear to be a phoenix coat, a braided basket at the foot of a tree, an udewa fan, and a drifting boat in a landscape of cherry blossoms, chrysanthemums, and confederate roses.

The drawer fronts in the lower section show charming decorations of various musical instruments and courtly accessories, like folding fans, combs and a lady's toiletry box or tebako, maybe not what one would expect on a sword rack. The rear of the rack consists partially of flush carvings showing typically Chinese motifs, such as a shishi lion and peonies.

The entire rack shows high craftsmanship, mixed with a confusing array of classical motifs typical of the late Edo period.

bottom of page