Posted by: softypapa | December 25, 2011

Antique Japanese Bowl Lid – Wood Maki-e Lacquer Owan Lid

This high quality bowl is called owan (pronounced ‘oh-whan’) in Japan where it is used to serve Japanese style soup such as miso shiru.  Older Owan will normally include a lid which rests within the lip of the bowl and which helps keep the soup warm, though modern bowls may be lidless.  Modern owan are also usually made of plastic while vintage bowls were typically formed from blocks of wood shaped to produce individual bowl and lid sections.  The process of creating such a bowl from wood required the talents of one or more highly skilled artisans as well as a considerable investment in time.  Since the walls of the bowl as well as the lid are very thin it was therefore necessary to carefully dry the wood after each significant cut was made in order to prevent cracking.  The rough cut blocks would typically need to dry for an entire year before being shaped, and when the bowl’s final form was achieved another year of drying may be needed before the lacquer finish could be applied.  The lacquer work would then require time to complete as multiple coats may be applied and each coat must dry completely before proceeding.  Still more time was required if the bowl was to be decorated by a maki-e lacquer artist who would painstakingly paint detailed scenes of beauty upon the bowl, often including auspicious symbols such as pine boughs, the images of luck gods or perhaps the profile of Mt. Fuji rising above swirling clouds.  With some workshops as many as five years would be needed to complete the entire process.  The bowls were often produced as a set and may have included a custom wooden storage box.  Such boxes may include Japanese writing on the outside indicating the name of the owner and possibly the date of manufacture.

About the Listed Item

Wood and lacquer antique Japanese owan bowl.  The bowl and lid are finished with lacquer and decorated with gold maki-e art.  The bowl is in good condition with no cracks though the lacquer is a bit worn in places along the lip and there are some small marks and scratches from handling as well as a slightly darkened patina of age.

Height (including grasp): 0.9 inches (2.3 centimeters)
Diameter at lip of bowl: 4.9 inches (12.6 centimeters)

item code: R1S2-10000
category codes: mukashiteberumono
ship code: G3


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