Japanese nanban lacquer chest
Lacquer (urushi), mother-of-pearl (raden), shagreen (rayskin denticles), gold and silver powder (hiramaki-e), softwood, metal fixings
635 mm (H); 1315 mm (W); 592 mm (D)
Place of origin
JapanOrder this image
Chirk Castle, Wrexham (Accredited Museum)
This shark-skin covered chest opens to reveal a black lacquered interior in-laid with a mother of pearl panther. The chest is thought to have been acquired by Sir Thomas Myddelton I, who made his fortune as a merchant adventurer and was one of the founders of the East India company.
Japanese nanban lacquer domed chest, decorated on the exterior with shagreen, mother-of-pearl and shaped panels of bird-and-flower scenery in lacquer, mon or circular family crests in lacquer on the sides, the interior of the lid decorated with two tigers among bamboo in lacquer, with ornate gilt copper clasps and lock, c. 1600. This type of Japanese lacquer combining Japanese, Korean, Indian and European styles and shapes is called nanban, the Japanese term for 'southern barbarians', in reference to the Europeans for whom it was made.
Listed as being in the Long Gallery at Chirk Castle in the c. 1910 inventory (and there called ‘King Charles's Box’); accepted in lieu of tax by HM Goverrnment and allocated to the National Trust for display at Chirk Castle, 1999.