『菊唐草蝶蒔絵鞍』”Chrysanthemum arabesque butterfly Maki-e saddle”


Continuing from the previous post, I would like to introduce Makie Saddle. This “Chrysanthemum arabesque butterfly Makie saddle” is lacquered without gaps and is very elaborate. I would like to introduce what I personally found to be wonderful.

展示場所 Exhibition place

製造年代 Period of manufacture所蔵先 Ownership
江戸時代 Edo Period東京国立博物館 Tokyo National Museum


This saddle is said to have been manufactured in the Edo period. The collection is at the Tokyo National Museum, and the exhibition place is mainly exhibited in the exhibition room of “Samurai’s Attire” in the permanent exhibition. It is not always on display, and there are some periods when it is not on display due to a change of exhibition.



The exhibition room is dimly lit to prevent deterioration of the work due to UV rays on the exhibits.

Also, it is an unbranded work, and it is not clear who made it. However, since lacquering was popular at that time, I think it was made by division of labor rather than by one person.


And the process of lacquer art, such as groundwork, lacquering, and lacquer painting, is very long. No one knows what will happen in that long period. As for ordered items, it is often the case that another one is prepared and two or more are made at the same time, just in case.


I don’t think that saddles are mass-produced because the people who use them are military commanders and generals, and the number of people who use them is limited. However, it is difficult to finish such many Maki-e work by one person, so I imagine that a considerable number of craftsmen were also specialized in saddles.

高蒔絵 Taka-Makie


I think the highlight of this Makie saddle is the “Taka-Makie”.

何段階もの高低差 High and low differences in many stages

  1. 蝶:前羽 Butterfly: Front wings
  2. 蝶:頭・胸・腹 Butterfly: Head / chest / belly
  3. 蝶:後羽 Butterfly: Back wings
  4. 菊の花びら(少しだけ)Chrysanthemum petals (only a little)


Considering the pattern, the height rises in this order.


In addition, the part surrounded by red in the photo has a higher height difference in the same raised surface. It is difficult to polish the corners because the gold powder tends to bald.


In this Maki-e work, the butterflies are finished to the highest height, making it a Maki-e work that dances on chrysanthemum flowers. By raising it high, I even feel that the presence of butterflies is stronger than that of chrysanthemums.

様々な蝶 Various butterflies


There are various angles of butterflies in Taka-Makie work, and the same ones are not found. This is also a fun element to see.


The pattern of the wings of the butterflies is also fine, and the Maki-e work for each butterfly is very fine, such as making a striped pattern by making a place where gold powder is not sprinkled, and placing Hirame-fun powder in the center.


Also, since the butterfly’s Taka-Makie work is on the ground where the chrysanthemum and arabesque pattern were drawn earlier, it is considered very difficult to sharpen the chrysanthemum and arabesque pattern below so as not to damage them. In addition, when raising the pattern high, it is necessary to devise a way to dry it so that the lacquer does not drip (because the saddle is curved). Considering the work process, it is a daunting task.

曲面をまたがる文様 Patterns that straddle curved surfaces


Furthermore, the butterflies in the Taka-Makie work seem to pop out and dance more because they exist across the surface.


Also, it is not one or two butterflies. The fact that there are a certain number of them is also wonderful.


The pattern is designed to continue to the back. Only the user can see the back side, but the pattern is also arranged and Maki-e lacquered on the back side. I think it can be said that it is a work of art with a high degree of perfection while being used.

透し彫りSee-through carving


The side of the saddle and the stirrup of the set is engraved with a see-through. This see-through carving looks like the family crest of “Ume”. The Maki-e work is chrysanthemum, arabesque, and butterfly, but the see-through carving is not chrysanthemum.


Unfortunately, there was no owner background in the commentary, so I don’t know the truth. However, the family crest of plum blossoms is Sugawara no Michizane, and the descendants are the Maeda family of Kaga, so this Maki-e work may be from the Kaga domain and may have been made by an excellent Kaga Maki-e artist. (It’s just a guess)


In addition, it is said that it may have been made just to decorate oneself luxuriously in a peaceful era without war in this era.


I would like to take a closer look so that the lacquer artist at that time can find all the things that he was particular about.


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