A five-case night and day style inro featuring a flock of sparrows flying above a bamboo grove.
To the front, the flock, lacquered in gold, appear to dodge and dart amongst one another feeding on insects; one bird has its head turned back, beak open, squawking at the group. To the bottom right, a pair sit on the edge of the bamboo grove with another bird coming in to land.
To the verso is the night scene. The small section of the bamboo grove visible on the gold side carries over onto one of the cord runners and expands into a large bamboo forest. Many of the birds have found a perch for the night, sitting in groups of twos and threes, with a handful still darting around in the night sky. The top case is lacquered in black and the bottom in gold.
The subject of the sparrows and bamboo is Take ni Suzume. Sparrows eat harmful insects and are considered beneficial to agriculture and when paired with bamboo are considered an auspicious theme of good luck and fortune.
The internal compartments are lacquered in orange nashiji and gold fundame.
This is a simple composition well executed. I really enjoy yamamaki inro; they are the opposite of the bright beauties that instantly catch your eye. Yamamaki hides the treasure beneath the depths of its black-polished surface and won’t reveal it unless you sit and carefully study the scene. Rolling it in the light gradually brings it into focus.
Signed, Toju, with a kao (Kanshosai Toju (Toyo II)
First half of the 19th century
Height: 9cm Width: 4.7cm Depth: 2.3cm
Provenance: Private European collection
Bonham’s London, The Edward Wrangham Collection of Japanese Art Part I, Lot 297
Wrangham collection, no. 195
Acquired from D. J. K. Wright, London, 1963
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