top of page
Sanao Matsuda   松田眞扶
Lacquer master   漆器蒔絵士
Echizen Shikki(Lacquerware) @Fukui prefecture

Sanao was born in Sabae city (Kawada) in 1934. He learned the skills of maki-e from his father, Shuetsu, and then, in 1955, he went to study under Terai Naoji, the living National treasure (Important Intangible Cultural Heritage). Sanao now hold the title of Master of Echizen Traditional Craft Lacquerware Maki-e and First Class Skilled Master of Echizen Traditional Lacquer ware Maki-e. He was also chosen as a Contemporary Master Craftsman in 2008 and was awarded the Ouju-Housho Prize in 2009.

Matsuda maki-e
The atelier Matsuda Maki-e reveals great techniques of work and passion for creativity.
The dynamism in designs and use of colors captures immediately the eyes of admirers.
It is a treasure coming out from the devotion of their life to maki-e, over three generations.
It was Shuetsu, born in Kawada – a town in Echizen prefecture (now called Fukui) well known for lacquerware for more than 1500 years – in 1907, who became the first of three generations of maki-e artists of the Matsuda family. As a teenager, he first worked at a workshop making Kyoto style lcquer ware and then went to Aizu in the north to learn particular techniques. When he returned to his hometown, he decided to devote himself to maki-e and gradually reached to establish his own personalized techniques and designs by combining what he learnt in Kyoto and Aizu. Sadly, however, the war in the Pacific began and Shuetsu was no longer able to work but left a vast stock of patterns and sketches.
Sanao, the son of Shuetsu, was to be the next to inherit the skills and to further develop the techniques. Having been taught strictly by his father from childhood, he decided to devote his whole life to maki-e works from a very early stage of his life. Being so passionate to create his own style, he made a clear distinction between products and “objet d’art”. Naturally, he put a great deal of effort into creating large-scale art pieces many of which were purchased for the use of public facilities. His passion led him to achieve the highly appreciated artistic techniques and as a result, he was recognized as the Contemporary Master Craftsman of our time and received a number of important awards and prizes. He often puts his health at risk by exhausting his energy to complete a master piece of work, however, his life-long devotion to his work never stops and still continues to attain perfection.
The magic of Maki-e.
The brilliance of gold paintings glimmering gracefully on the lustrous black Urushi (lacquer) may give you illusions of the distant Orient, like mountains and leaves, flows of rivers, sensually lit by moonlight... Its ultimate beauty resonates with subtle contrast of light and shadows that the Japanese appreciate aesthetically. Maki-e is the work of artisans, highly influenced by their sensibilities and sense of beauty.

The beginnings of maki-e in Japan date back some 1200 years to the Nara period (710-794). Used mainly for the decorations of precious lacquerware items of all kinds, the elegance and refined beauty of maki-e works captivated the nobles and warriors of feudal Japan. The further development of techniques continued to expand the world of maki-e. During the 17th century, the Edo period, members of the Rinpa school, one of the most influential group of artists at the time, favored maki-e techniques and created exceptional pieces of art.

"Maki" of maki-e comes from the verb "maku" meaning "sprinkle" and "e" meaning "painting". It is the work of "painting" by "sprinkling" the gold powder on Urushi (lacquer). A design is delicately "painted" with a brush on a surface in natural Urushi (lacquer). While it is still wet, the very fine powder of gold and other metals such as silver is "sprinkled" over and then the excess powder is removed. When the lacquer gets hard and dry, the design is finished by burnishing and polishing the surface, in order to bring out the lustrous qualities of both the gold and the lacquer to complete a splendid example of maki-e work.
Maki-e is the work of artisans, the work of expertise. It is now one of Japan's most representative traditional art crafts.
bottom of page