Inlaid Shelf, Japan

Inlaid shelf, Japan

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Author/ School/ Dating:

Hakone, Japan, 1875 - 1880

Technique and Dimensions:

Polychrome wooden inlay


First floor, house (inv. no. CDA 1583)


Legacy of Captain E.A. D'Albertis, 1932

Object Type:



Wooden structure with shelves, doors and drawers, covered with wooden inlays made with various precious woods in different natural colours, in a vast ornamental repertoire of geometric and floral motifs.

This interesting piece of furniture was probably purchased by Captain D’Albertis during his first world tour, in 1877 - 1878. It represents the full technical evolution of the tradition of fine wooden mosaic inlay technique yosegi zaiku 寄 木 細 工 practiced from 1635 on (i.e. from the beginning of the Edo period (1600 - 1867)) in Hakone, a town located on the lake of the same name near Mount Fuji, in the Odawara province.
Facilitated by the immense reserves of precious woods of the surrounding forests, this artistic craftsmanship is rooted in the ancient skills and culture of the carpenters, wood carvers and Japanese inlayers who in the eighth century came, for the first time, into contact with the inlaid decorated artefacts imported for Japanese rulers from Tang-era China (618 - 906).