Kinkarakawa

Japanese late Edo period Kinkarakawa purse with Kabuto metal detail. Kinkarakawa is a type of leather prepared according to a method first developed by the Medici family in Italy. This technique was later learned by the Japanese from the Dutch in the 17th century. Essentially, the cow hide is impressed with floral patterns and a thin gold sheet. By 1668, such items had become so popular in Japan that the emperor placed a ban on further imports, which lasted until the Meiji period. Soseki Natsumi, one of Japan's most celebrated writers, often described his characters as carrying a Kinkarakawa tobacco or pipe pouch such as the one in these pictures. Nowadays, these items can rarely be found in such excellent condition as the one presented here.

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