Insects Kobako in Shibayama

Rectangular kobako box in ivory with inlays of stones and mother-of-pearl according to the shibayama technique to represent insects. Combining this technique and the legs painted in the hollows of the ivory, the insects stand out and are highlighted by the play of volumes, materials and contrasts. Among them, there is a cricket, a firefly, a fly, a dragonfly, a ladybug and a butterfly.

The shibayama technique consists of inlaying ivory with lacquer, wood or precious materials or stones such as mother of pearl, tortoise shell, gold or silver. It was developed in the last quarter of the 18th century by Ônoki Senzo, during the An’ei era (1772-1781). He is a craftsman from the city of Shibayama, in the present Chiba prefecture.

Insects (mushi) have a very important place in Japanese culture. Insect hunting is a popular pastime, especially among children. Using nets and cages, they catch cicadas, beetles and other insects to observe them.  The mushi can indeed be seen as familiar animals, playing a role in the education of the child: the child will first play with the ladybug and will progress as his education progresses until the complex hunt for the dragonfly, which requires a certain skill.

Japan – Meiji Era (1868-1912)

Height : 0.9 in. (2.2 cm) – Width : 1.1 in. (2.8 cm) – Depth : 3.1 in. (8 cm)