Used for thousands of years in Japan to coat objects from crockery to furniture and buildings, urushi is the purified sap of the Asian lacquer tree. When dry, the lacquer is both heat and water resistant, providing protection and strength to underlying materials, very often wood, but also bamboo, paper or leather. In Japanese lacquerware itself can be referred to as urushi as well as shikki (lit. “urushi vessel”), and with the development of acrylic resin in the last century, objects coated in synthetic lacquers, such as food-safe polyurethane, are considered urushi/shikki too. Pure urushi is transparent, while the black and red lacquers most associated with urushi are achieved with the addition of mineral pigments. Over this traditional decorative details such as gold maki-e “sprinkled pictures” or raden “shell inlay” can also be applied.
Keura Sumi M
|Contents||Black lacquered tea tray|
|Origin||Yamanaka, Ishikawa, Japan|
Ø24 x 4cm
|Artist's mark||Brand logo on base|
In 1908, master woodturner Komakichi Gato founded his woodworking plant in Yamanaka Onsen – an area with a rich history of making kiji: the plain wooden vessels on which urushi lacquers are applied. Now in their fourth generation, GATO MIKIO is committed to preserving Yamanaka lacquerware traditions by carefully adapting them to modern life. Working in collaboration with contemporary Japanese product designers, GATO MIKIO's international award-winning tableware elegantly marries the past to the present.
The KEURA collection is designed together with Satoshi Umeno. Meaning beauty and elegance, the name Keura is taken from a quote in the ancient Tale of the Bamboo Cutter, in which the protagonist, Princess Kaguya, is discovered as a baby inside a glowing stalk of bamboo. Accordingly the collection is straight and slender like bamboo, taking simplicity to the limits to ensure a soft touch.
Before and after use, wipe down the obon with a soft cloth, slightly dampened and with a mild detergent if necessary. Do not soak and wipe off any spillages as soon as possible to prevent water stains. After cleaning, thoroughly dry with a soft cloth and leave to dry naturally. Urushi lacquers prefer a relatively humid environment and may crack if stored in extremely dry conditions, therefore please use and clean lacquerware occasionally so that it can absorb moisture from the air and a damp cleaning cloth.