By Em_Williams at 13:08 on 12/09/12
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An exhibition of probably the largest collection of Japanese Shibayama lacquerware in the country has gone on show at the Royal Cornwall Museum in Truro.
The exhibition will continue until 31 December 2012.
Highly ornate and often exotic in terms of subject matter, the wide range of objects is considered to be unique in the West. It has also been a well kept secret for nearly a hundred years, with only a small selection of pieces on display in the main galleries since 1991.
The artefacts on display were collected and bequeathed to the museum by C. H .T. Hawkins of Trewithen and Mr and Mrs Allen. None of them are believed to have visited Japan themselves so their collections are seen as an example of European fascination with all things Japanese from the 1860s to the turn of 20th century. Indeed, most of the pieces were made for export.
Shibayama is an art form that was characterised by inlaying exquisitely carved pearl-shell, stained and painted ivory and horn, coral, jade, tortoiseshell and various hardstones into a lacquered wooden or ivory base. Purely ornamental, the lacquerware included vases, dishes, plaques, traditional table-screens and inrÅs – small, personal medicine or seal boxes.
'We are very fortunate to have this extraordinary collection of Shibayama at the museum," said museum director Hilary Bracegirdle. 'It's the biggest exhibition of its kind for many years and there are some really wonderful items on display. The colours are incredible.'
Entry to the Royal Cornwall Museum in River Street, Truro, costs £5 per adult for a one year pass and is free to anyone aged 18 and under.
For more information and to check opening times, call the museum on 01872 272205 or visit http://tinyurl.com/8bm9a3q
Date: Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Repeats: Every Day until Monday, December 31, 2012