Keiji Onihira

Jewel Beetle Patterned Makie Covered Box

  • Lacquerware
  • Presented in 2021
  • H 10.6 x W 22 x D 22 cm
  • Contact for Price

Jewel beetles are beautiful beetles that are long and thin with green metallic lustered bodies and red and green stripes like a rainbow on their backs.
As its natural enemy, birds are afraid of things that change color, the metallic luster of jewel beetles is said to keep birds away.
During the day, they fly around broad-leaved trees such as hackberry or zelcova trees (the adult beetles eat the leaves of zelcova and other elm family plants), and stay on the underside of the leaves during the night.
The larva crawl into dead trees and eat the wood. They fly around on sunny days and move actively.
If you saw the trunk of hackberry, zelcova or yellow tree, the jewel beetles will gather around the sawn part, being attracted to the scent of the wood.
Jewel beetles can also be seen sunbathing on fences made of dried bamboo or on a dead branch sticking out, but they are very cautious and stop moving when a person comes nearby. If a person comes even closer, they will fly away or disappear into a bush.
As the color of their wings do not change even after they die, they have been used to decorate the "Tamamushi no Zushi" (small shrine decorated with jewel beetles), a national treasure owned by Horyuji in Nara.

I designed this piece by arranging leaves, flowers and fruit of hackberry into the traditional auspicious pattern "Shippo Tsunagi" (pattern of linked ovals).
I used the tamamushi shell inlay technique to express the jewel beetle and used silver-palladium alloy powder for the background.

In the old days, people believed that if you keep jewel beetles' wings in your wardrobe, the number of kimonos in your wardrobe will increase.
I hope this box will be cherished as a jewel beetle box that brings good luck.

Category Lacquerware
Year Presented 2021
Dimensions H 10.6 x W 22 x D 22 cm
Materials dry lacquer (partially wood based), silver-palladium alloy, gold, sea abalone shells (known as tamamushi (jewel beetle) shells), pigments
Exhibition The 38th Lacquerware Traditional Kōgei Exhibition
Artist Signature Signature on box and piece
Notes Comes with box

Keiji Onihira

photo Keiji Onihira

I create my artwork with lacquer, gold, powder, mother-of-pearl, using various makie techniques. Many new types of lacquer and pigments are being developed these days. I try to use these new materials and techniques within the traditional artwork, as I believe this will create a new tradition. With traditional lacquerware at the base, I want to try various motifs and themes to produce artwork that create a special little world or atmosphere.