This is a comprehensive study of the inro, the small lacquer container used by Japanese men wearing traditional dress to carry items in daily use, drawing on the V&A's collection. Suspended from the belt by means of a netsuke and originally intended to hold a seal and ink or a supply of medicines, the inro gradually developed as a highly decorative dress accessory and became an object of high fashion, which is now prized by collectors. The majority of inro were made of lacquer, and include some of the finest and most innovative examples of the Japanese lacquerer's craft. The book traces the diverse origins of the inro from around 1600 until the early-20th century, and includes sections on construction and techniques of manufacture, on materials used, as well as on individual craftsmen, with photographs of their signatures. The sources of inro designs are explored, from paintings, ukiyoe prints and woodblock-printed books, with many examples illustrated. Methods of dating are also discussed, making this a useful reference for collectors and experts, while those with a general interest in Japanese art should be drawn to the craftsmanship of the individual pieces.
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