fig1: kwashi kago

Fig. 1: Kwasji Kago. Twee vazen van zeer fijn gevlochten mandwerk, almede om daarin gebak rond te dienen.
kashi kago
. Two vases of very fine woven basketry, for tendering pastry

These are the words with which nearly 200 years ago the collector Johannes Frederik van Overmeer Fisscher (1800-1848) characterises the object to be described in this paper – a woven bamboo and lacquer goblet[1]. Starting from this information in Fisscher’s catalogue this paper shall describe the lidded goblet extensively and gather additional information with regard to its raw materials and manufacturing process. It will try to answer the questions of the goblet’s origin and craftsman. The unusual form of the goblet – imagine an hour glass with the bigger part of the bottom and a smaller part of the top vessel cut off –provides another interesting aspect to examine. The paper will challenge the question whether the maker drew his inspiration for the form from Asian (Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Burmese or Indonesian) offering containers or European glass chalices. Or is it just nature itself that inspired the craftsman?

It will show that the goblet is an ”international” object: manufactured by a Japanese craftsman, who employed a Japanese production process, while emulating a not typically Japanese form to be then bought by a Dutch collector, brought to The Netherlands and finally offered to the Dutch King William I (1772-1843) for his Koninklijk Kabinett van Zeldzaamheden, the Dutch Royal Cabinet of Curiosities. As a collector’s item the goblet had probably never been used in its actual way but kept shielded in boxes and showcases, untouched for centuries. Thus it is preserved perfectly and nowadays one can still admire his “sibling” in the Japanese section of the Rijksmuseum voor Volkenkunde (National Museum of Ethnology, RMV) in Leiden, The Netherlands.


Next: Object description and manufacturing process


[1] The RMV holds two pieces of this exceptional object with the catalogue numbers 360-4871 and 360-4872. In the following, catalogue number 360-4872 refers to the goblet discussed in this paper.


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