Go Sighting #14: Edo Period Kamakurabori Go Bowls

Edo Period Kamakurabori Go Bowls
This is a set of Edo period kamakurabori (carved lacquerware) go bowls from Japan which I bought from an auction a while ago. It comes with the original wooden box and you can see how deteriorated the set has become. Parts of the lacquerware have fallen off and many go stones have chipped. But it is still a good example of old equipment used in the old days in Japan. Of course, an Edo period set of white stones is most likely made from Japanese produced clamshells rather than Mexican imported ones.

The lids seems to show two people playing a game of go with an attendant nearby to serve the needs of the two players. There is also a pot of flower and two small butterflies flitting around on on each lid. Carved on the sides are 3 scenes of daily life. The first scene appears to be a small troupe of musicians performing in a celebration of some sorts. The second scene looks is a village scene with a farmer and his water buffalo in a rice paddy beneath the nearby hills and trees. The third scene (currently unshown) looks like a merchant walking along with his servant as they transport something in their cart. As they journey to the market, a beggar by the roadside greets them hoping for some generosity. Quite an interesting selection to show off what life in old Edo Japan was like.

For more information about this type of art, check this website to learn more about the history of carved lacquerware in Japan. Looking at the picture of the Edo period “Incense case Peony from the Kamakurabori Material Museum”, I find the material type quite similar looking to that of my go bowls.

According to gowan at Godiscussions.com, “Carved and Lacquered go bowls are not uncommon in Japan. Kuroki Goishiten is selling some beautiful kamakurabori bowls for around US$3000. See http://www.kurokigoishi.co.jp/english/gallery/gobowls.html scroll down to see item number EA306.”

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