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Pot-pourri holder

Pot-pourri holder

  • Place of origin:

    Japan (made)
    France (made)

  • Date:

    1650-1700 (made)
    ca. 1780 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Wood covered in black and gold lacquer; gilt bronze mounts

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Europe 1600-1815, Room 3, case CA8

Japanese lacquerware has always been highly prized in the West, but in the 18th century few examples reached Europe. Such rarity made lacquer all the more sought after and pieces were sometimes transformed to conform to western tastes and lifestyle. This object was originally a rice bowl, made in the second half of the 17th century for use on formal occasions by a high-ranking samurai. In about 1780, having reached France, it was transformed into a pot-pourri holder with the addition of mounts in the fashionable Neo-classical style.

Physical description

Circular rice bowl and lid, decorated with floral scrolls and the Hosokawa mon (family crest) in the form of eight roundels around a larger central one in gold hiramaki-e ('low sprinkled picture') lacquer on a black lacquer ground; plain black lacquer interior. This was transformed in France into a pot-pourri holder by the addition of gilt-bronze ormolu mounts.

Place of Origin

Japan (made)
France (made)


1650-1700 (made)
ca. 1780 (made)


Unknown (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Wood covered in black and gold lacquer; gilt bronze mounts


Height: 37.5 cm, Width: 33.5 cm, Depth: 24.6 cm, Width: 19.5 cm space between foot print, length: 18.5 cm space between foot prints

Descriptive line

Bowl decorated with floral scrolls and family crests in the form of nine roundels in gold lacquer on a black lacquer ground, Japan, 1675-1700; mounted in France with decorative ormolu metal mounts, France, ca. 1780

Labels and date

Pot-pourri holder or vase
About 1780

Asian lacquer was rare and desirable in Europe, and an important commodity in the luxury market. Japanese lacquer of the 17th century was the most valuable. Lacquer was re-purposed, adapted and even cut down to create costly novelties. This lacquer rice bowl, originally made for an elite Japanese family, was converted into a pot-pourri vase by the addition of gilded metal mounts.

Rice bowl (1650–1700):
Japan; wood, covered with black lacquer with gold decoration
Mounts: France; gilded copper alloy (one a replacement)

Production Note

The lacquer bowl was made in Japan in the 17th century and transformed into a pot-pourri holder in France in about 1780.


Wood; Lacquer; Gilt bronze

Subjects depicted

Mon; Floral scrolls


Lacquerware; Containers


East Asia Collection

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