Namiki Yukari Maki-e Fountain Pen - Pine Needle
This Namiki Yukari Maki-e Pine Needle fountain pen was released in November 2013 by a collaboration of maki-e artists (Kokkokai) in Japan. It features the Togidashi-Hira Maki-e technique (burnished-raised maki-e), depicting pine needles and branches. The fountain pen features a superb 18k nib that glides across the page effortlessly. The Namiki logo can be seen on the clip as well as on the nib, which also depicts an image of Mt. Fuji. The fountain pen comes in a nice softwood presentation box, and includes both a Con-70 converter and a bottle of ink to get you started writing with this gorgeous work of art.
The Yukari Collection vividly expresses the nature of the four seasons, by combining designs with various techniques such as Togidashi-Taka Maki-e (Burnished-Raised Maki-e) and Raden (Mother-of-Pearl). As always, the artists' signature in kanji is an integral part of the design and finished product.
The Namiki Yukari Pine Needle fountain pen has special significance. In Japan, the pine tree, or matsu, shares the same meaning as the Chinese and Korean pine trees, of longevity, virtue and youth. They are also associated with masculinity and power. The word "matsu" means "waiting for the soul of a god to descend from Heaven" in Japanese. In the ancient Shinto beliefs, gods were said to have ascended to Heaven on a pine tree, where they now reside on a beautiful volcanic mountain in giant or old trees.
Pine trees are associated with the New Year in Japan, so much so that many Japanese hang a bundle of pine twigs and bamboo trunks known as a Kado matsu (Gate pine) on their doors to receive a blessing from the gods. Pines are also used to mark the boundaries of the sacred ground of temples and shrines. The nib is a 18kt gold nib. Prior to the Edo period (1600-1867), pine trees and branches were a popular choice of decoration for samurai on their armor and katana due to all the associations with masculinity.
Maki-e is the centuries-old traditional Japanese art of adorning lacquer ware by applying multiple layers of lacquer, decorated with powders and plakes of gold, silver, and colored pigments, as well as thin slivers of abalone shell. The Maki-e artist begins the work with a drawing of the intended design, which is then transferred to the prepared lacquer surface. The task of transforming the outline drawing into a complex decoration of sprinkled powders is complex, lengthy, and requires years of study and practice, as well as steady hands and a great deal of patience.