Kodansu - CarpIslands

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Project by madburg posted 10-20-2020 07:45 AM 516 views 1 time favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Kodansu – Carp islands

Continuing with my Japanese ‘period’ of woodwork, this is another small chest inspired by the kodansu – small table cabinets of the 19th century. They were originally used to store items related to the Kōdō ceremony.

Kōdō is the art of appreciating Japanese incense, and involves using incense within a structure of codified conduct. Kōdō includes all aspects of the incense process, from the tools, to activities such the incense-comparing games. Kōdō is counted as one of the three classical Japanese arts of refinement, along with kadō – flower arrangement, and chadō – the tea ceremony. Kodansu were small, highly valued, and highly decorated with the finest lacquer techniques.

This one is small and would fit in a150mm/6inch cube. The chest is made of walnut veneered plywood. Each side having a star-burst veneer pattern overlaid with typical makie lacquer scenes of islands, pine trees, cranes, and carp.

The inside is veneered with kiri/paulownia. The drawers are of lime/bass wood, with walnut and rock maple fronts, overlaid with gold makie carp.

The bottom drawer contains two small walnut veneered boxes that hold incense. The sides of this drawer are cut back and shaped to allow the boxes to be removed.

The middle drawer contains some small origami ‘boxes’ for more incense.

I used ‘gold’ hardware purchased off AliExpress to match with the gold lacquer scenes. It makes it a bit ornate, but it is in keeping with traditional Kodansu.

I’ve called this Kodansu the ‘Carp islands’ – derived from the carp and island scenes on its sides.

Thanks for looking. Hope you enjoyed it.

-- Madburg WA

13 comments so far

View Jim Rowe's profile

Jim Rowe

1119 posts in 3224 days

#1 posted 10-20-2020 08:14 AM

Another superb example of the genre. You have packed so much content and detail into such a small cube.
Thanks for sharing.

-- It always looks better when it's finished!

View EarlS's profile


4073 posts in 3259 days

#2 posted 10-20-2020 11:18 AM

Oh my – I’m speechless. Gorgeous!!!

-- Earl "I'm a pessamist - generally that increases the chance that things will turn out better than expected"

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

6159 posts in 1493 days

#3 posted 10-20-2020 01:34 PM

So much to like in such a small box. Golly!

-- Dave - Santa Fe

View sras's profile


5642 posts in 4040 days

#4 posted 10-20-2020 02:29 PM


-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View MrWolfe's profile


1229 posts in 1035 days

#5 posted 10-20-2020 03:00 PM

Excellent work!
Lovely design and great craftsmanship.

View shipwright's profile


8618 posts in 3709 days

#6 posted 10-20-2020 03:22 PM

Lovely. Amazing in so many ways.
You’ve done it yet again!

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

View Mainiac Matt 's profile

Mainiac Matt

9725 posts in 3240 days

#7 posted 10-20-2020 04:00 PM

This box is incredible!

-- Matt -- I yam what I yam and that's all what I yam

View Eeyore's profile


68 posts in 127 days

#8 posted 10-20-2020 04:01 PM

When you say “ko”, you’re not kidding!

So much wonderful detail packed into a little thing.
The whole “boxes in boxes in drawers in a box” aesthetic is so very Japanese.

Thank you!

-- Elliott C. "Eeyore" Evans

View WhattheChuck's profile


420 posts in 4472 days

#9 posted 10-21-2020 03:00 AM

Awesome as always!

-- Chuck, Pullman, WA

View madburg's profile


290 posts in 1754 days

#10 posted 10-21-2020 04:23 AM

Thanks every one. Not a lot of preparation, or sanding etc so one makes quite rapid progress. Small is beautiful at the moment. I don’t think it would be as attractive if it were twice the size!

-- Madburg WA

View recycle1943's profile


4804 posts in 2533 days

#11 posted 10-21-2020 07:10 PM

Stunning isn’t quite enough but that’s all I’ve got

-- Dick, Malvern Ohio - my biggest fear is that when I die, my wife sells my toys for what I told her I paid for them

View SubVette's profile


189 posts in 2457 days

#12 posted 10-21-2020 10:50 PM

Definitely has the WOW factor. You hit the nail on the head…

-- John in Florida

View splintergroup's profile


4120 posts in 2134 days

#13 posted 10-22-2020 03:02 PM

So very fine!

A cross between fine box making and jewelry.

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