A RARE JAPANESE LACQUER BOX WITH MASONIC REGALIA
Edo Period, early 19th century
The box decorated in various lacquer techniques including gold, silver and red, hiramaki-e (low relief lacquer) against black lacquer.
H. 13 x W. 41 x D. 31 cm
In the late 18th and early 19th century, many Dutch higher officials of the VOC were members of a Masonic lodge and therefore boxes of various shapes and sizes decorated with Masonic symbols would have been ordered by VOC officials in Deshima to be used by themselves, in the Grand Lodge in Bengal or in the two lodges in Batavia or to be given or sold to European members of Masonic lodges elsewhere.
Isaac Titsingh, Opperhoofd in Deshima in 1779 and 1782-84 and the first true European Japanologist, unrivalled in his study of the Japanese language, history, geography and social habits, was the first to order Japanese curiosities, including lacquer. For many years after he left Deshima he continued to order Japanese objects as for instance a lacquered board for the main Masonic Lodge in Batavia in 1789.