Japan; Kamakura period; 13th c.
The bottle was probably shaped out of a real cleaned gourd or modelled by means of wet linen and a mould. The base was then coated with an even layer of lacquer producing a shiny and smooth surface.
A cartouche-shaped ornament was made in the hiramaki-e technique whereby the forms engraved in lacquer were coated with a new layer of lacquer. Gold dust was blown on it with a bamboo blow-pipe while still wet. Figures of animals, merchants in wagons, labourers with sacks, warriors and arms, made of partially or completely gilded bronze, were applied with small nails to the still wet lacquer in the cartouche fields. Background details of the flowers, grass, clouds and birds in the distance were drawn with a brush dipped into gold dust mixed with oil. The hiramaki-e technique is typical of the Kamakura period.