Namban Writing Desk
Rare Namban writing desk due to its unusually large size and the variety and quality of the decoration, including a panel bearing the sign of the Jesuits. It is made of lacquered Japanese Cypress (Chamaecyparis obtusa) with mother of pearl and metal (gilded copper).
The front cover has three hinges and a bolt lock, the metalwork of which is ornately cut out and decorated with plant motifs and engraved with animals.
Inside there are 16 drawers of 7 different sizes surrounding the main central draw. Each of the drawers has a different plant motif decoration, always set in concave frames decorated with zigzagging twirls. The button-knobs are held in place by chrysanthemum-shaped metalwork.
The exterior of the front flap is decorated with a pair of birds (pheasants?) surrounded by five different species of plant, landscapes with trees (where one can see the Japanese Cypress of which the piece is made), rocks and boulders, waterways and architectural features (houses on stilts).
The interior of the same front flap is covered with dense decoration showing the twists and twirls of the leaves and flowers of a Japanese Damascus Plum.
On the fronts of the drawers, nine different species of plants can be made out. These include Orange tree, Tachibana, Azagau, Kuzu, Tsubaki, Kikyo, Kiku, Ume and two other unidentified species.
On the front of the central drawer taken from a fragment of a church lectern, one can see the emblem of the Jesuits - lances of resplendent light and flaming beams which, together with a circle, surround the initials IHS, which in turn are next to a heart with three nails and a cross, embedded at the head and base, respectively, symbolising the Passion of Christ.
Most prominent on the right flank is a pair of deer surrounded by the foliage and flowers of a Camelia tree, and on the left flank, there are two birds, one poised on a branch and another in flight surrounded by the lush vegetation of Orange, Techibana and Campanula.
On the back of the piece, the whole panel is filled with bells and on the top, although very worn, it is still possible to make out two lions surrounded by Momizi and Sacura. The corners and protruding framework of the box are protected by metal corner pieces made of gilded copper. Both sides also have handles, which are engraved and decorated, again supported by chrysanthemum-shaped metalwork. On the rear desktop, of European craftsmanship, there is similar decoration.
Period: Late XVI Century, Momoyama period