Mastering the art of Maki-e is not a quality that so many people possess. In fact, young artisans have to be thoroughly trained to reach a certain level of dexterity in order to become Maki-e masters. This decorating technique also requires time and attention to detail, given that, the production is generally limited to just a few pieces. In today’s article, we’re going to be looking at Kitcho, a limited edition collection consisting of 8 impressively crafted editions launched by Montegrappa in collaboration with Zohiko, Japan’s leading manufacturer of luxury lacquerware.
Originated in Japan, sources indicate that Maki-e was developed during the Heian period (794-1185) to decorate screens, albums, letter boxes and ink-slab cases. Even though the Maki-e designs have been refined over the years, the artisans still use the same traditional utensils and techniques when decorating. While some decorations are understated, others are extremely elaborated like the ones featured in this collection.
Handed down from generation to generation, Zohiko was founded in 1661 and has been producing lacquerware products for 352 years. The Kyoto-based manufacturer is Montegrappa’s newest partner, responsible for the truly fascinating Maki-e illustrations found throughout each of the pens we’ll reveal below. Drawing inspiration from Japanese artistry and folklore, kitcho is a luxurious expression of luck, vitality and prosperity.
In terms of construction and design, Montegrappa chose the same shape for each fountain pen, but came up with different Maki-e illustrations for the barrel. Handcrafted by skilled artisans in both Kyoto and Bassano del Grappa, the fountain pens are simply works of art. A bamboo pattern is displayed on the cap as well as on the grip section as a symbol of strength while the piston knob and the spring clip are adorned with vortices, representing eternal vitality, power and prosperity. Finely engraved on the 18k gold two-tone nib, an open folding fan symbolises growing success. An ebonite feed comes to complement the 18k gold nib, as for the filling mechanism, Montegrappa has equipped each pen with a patented piston mechanism.
Last but not least, the Maki-e paintings displayed on the barrel – from Crane, embodying virtues of longevity, fidelity and good fortune, to Phoenix, considered the harbinger of new beginnings, each illustration has its own symbolism and uniqueness. Even though every kissho monyo artwork created for kitcho has been selected and realised under the supervision of 10th generation owner, Tsuyoshi Nishimura, the attention to detail on the Maki-e decorations is truly remarkable. Montegrappa offers a luxurious experience all the way, with each pen delivered in a Custom Box.
Limited to only 8 numbered pieces of each edition, you have to be really lucky to get your hands on one.
Snake: EUR 20,950
Phoenix: EUR 23,950
Bat: EUR 18,950
Peacock: EUR 24,950 (already sold-out)
Lion: EUR 21,950
Sparrow: EUR 21,950
Tiger: EUR 22,950
Crane: EUR 19,950
image sources: web