During the Edo Period (1603-1868), a new industry that produced and dealt with fukuromono 袋物,meaning purses or pouches, appeared. At its beginnings, fukuromono were tobacco pouches made for men. In the Meiji period (1898-1912) they slowly spread to women and the variety of fukuromono blossomed to include a range of accessories like purses, clutches, and cases. Producing these bespoke works required the collaboration of highly skilled craftspeople from different disciplines - metalwork, lacquer, embroidery, and netsuke sculpture, to name a few.
The production of fukuromono quickly developed into a very specialized industry where craftspeople possessing highly specific skills converged to create impeccable works. Sadly, the intricacy and high level of craftsmanship of fukuromono for women of the Taisho period (1912-1926) would be the last flare before its extinction, coinciding with the decline of the kimono industry.
This elegant case reflects the collaborative efforts of various craftsmen and the passionate attention to detail that characterized the final period of the fukuromono industry. The striped pattern of the exterior fabric is overlaid with a complex pattern in gold and red. The metal fastener made by a very talented craftsman. Inside, you will find a pair of extendable chopsticks matching the quality of the case. The handle of the chopstick is made of lacquered wood and has a small metal ornament depicting plum blossoms. The ends of the chopsticks are made of steel, crafted to fit inside the wooden handles and hold stable when fully extended.
It is a small but grand work, capturing a mutual obsession of the artisans and the client responsible for its creation.