Recent years have witnessed the discovery of a number of highly unusual Nanban lacquer shapes, including shrines, trays, basins, bottles and a box shaped like a leather bag1, but the only other known
example of a ruff-box is an unpublished piece in the Palazzo Pitti, Florence2. These discoveries suggest that the scope of the export lacquer trade in the sixteenth century was larger, and the contact between producer and client was closer, than we have grown used to thinking. The extravagant ruffs of the Portuguese visitors to Japan, like their voluminous trousers, were lovingly depicted in contemporary screen painting3.
1 Tokyo Kokuritsu Hakubutsukan [Tokyo National Museum], Toyo no shikkogei [Lacquerwork of East Asia] (Tokyo, 1987), cat. nos. 233,
235, 240; Sakai-shi hakubutsukan [Sakai City Museum], Nanban shikki [Nanban lacquerware] (Osaka, 1983), cat. nos. 46, 48 and 50
2 Information kindly supplied by Dr. Oliver Impey of the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford
3 For a good example of such a painting, see Muss Royaux d'Art et d'Histoire, Art Namban: Les Portugais au Japon/Nambankunst:
Portugezen in Japan (Brussels, 1989), cat. no. 17.