Negoro lacquerwares constitute a special group of simple food-serving utensils that are distinctive for their solid, cinnabar red finish and austere, functional forms. The wares are especially admired when the plain red surface becomes almost translucent with age and is gently abraded from handling, allowing the black lacquer undercoat to show through. The term Negoro comes from the name of the Negoro-dera temple in Wakayama prefecture.
The Kimbell’s wine flask is a fine example of the simple, conservative, yet striking forms distinctive of Negoro lacquers. The broad, softly rounded shoulders curve to a sharp edge that sets off the extreme slope of the body to the narrow waist and broad, flat foot. The shape, called heishi in Japanese, derives from a Chinese pottery vessel type of the Tang period (A.D. 618–907) called meiping. Heishi is the term for a bottle used for offering sacred sake (Japanese rice wine) at the altar of a Buddhist temple. Sake was rarely poured in lacquered wooden bottles like this one, however, since they were intended mainly as ornaments.
(Klaus F. Naumann, Tokyo);
purchased by Kimbell Art Foundation, Fort Worth, 1981.