Kirsten's Corner

Japanese Match Safe with Farmers in Rainstorm


This Japanese match safe features the image of two farmers seeking shelter from the rain. Diagonal lines represent pouring rain, and the legs of the farmers can be seen running through a field while covering their heads with umbrellas or bails of hay. The scene has a backdrop of a beautiful landscape with trees and a roofed structure. Dragons wrap around the outer edge of the match safe, creating a border with their bodies that frames the image of the rain. This match safe has an exceptionally beautiful patina. The brass has taken on various shades of brown, with warm reddish hues that swirls into each other like grains of wood. 

Circa the 1880’s or 1890’s, this match safe was made at a time when Japan was shifting from a warring society to a time of peace. Metalsmiths who once made armor and weapons for samurai needed to find new ways to use their skills. Around the same time, Western colonialism was making a major impact on Japan, and trade with the West was becoming prominent. As a new source of income, metalsmiths began making art and decorative objects—like this beautiful match safe—which became highly sought after in the West for their incredible craftsmanship. This eventually led to the Aesthetic movement of the Victorian era. 

The match safe measures 2 1/8” x 1 1/4” x 3/8”. It weighs 19.32 grams. 

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