A Japanese Meiji Period gold lacquer tsuba with Shibayama style decoration depicting a Scholar

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Object Description

A Japanese Meiji Period (1868-1912) gold lacquer tsuba with Shibayama style decoration of ladies stealing a scroll from a sleeping scholar. Geese and flowering shrubs decorate the reverse.

Object History


Sleeping Scholars are an amusing motif in Japanese art, they are often being made fun of by the children they are supposed to be teaching! They had a high place in society and can be recognized by their affluent robes and tall black hats, they are often seated at low tables surrounded by scrolls and there will sometimes be a scholars rock nearby for contemplation.


The geese depicted here are likely to be white fronted geese, a species which due to conservation efforts in the 80’s is now once again common in Japan. Goose meat has long been regarded as a luxury for the imperial classes and aristocracy, the white fronted goose is a popular motif on family crests and paintings and frequently appears in Japanese folklore and poems.


A tsuba is the hand guard for a Japanese sword, they balance the sword, protect the hand from an enemy blade and show status. Tsuba have become collectible works of art in their own right.


Shibayama is a style of inlay decoration used to create a design on wood, ivory or lacquer. Small peices of shell, horn, coral, wood, ivory, bone and other colourful precious materials would be semi-inland into the base material to give a 3D effect.
The style of decoration is named after the artist Shibayama who created and popularized the artform.

Object Condition


Object Details

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By appointment only.

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Dealer Location

7 Pierrepont Row
(Off Camden Passage)
N1 8EE

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