I just came across this article discussing a pair of Satsuma vases, and in an effort to include more pottery to my repertoire, I am forwarding this on to you. As I stated in my last post, I will let the article speak for itself, and reserve my description of Satsuma ware for later. You don’t see Japanese antiques in the news too often, so here you go. Enjoy.
In an effort to expand the realm of the types of Japanese antiques that I cover, I present to you the first of hopefully many posts on the topic of Japanese pottery and enamelware.
I don’t know much about cloisonne, so I was pleasantly surprised when I came across this video appraising the amazing piece pictured above. This vessel represents an important time in the advancement of cloisonne technique in Japan during the Meiji period, which is why I thought it was worth sharing with you. I will refrain from regurgitating the information that you will glean from watching the video, but I will do so in my future posts on the subject. I promise it won’t be as gross as it sounds.
This has got to be the coolest thing EVER. I don’t know about you, but I grew up watching samurai movies, and I was always fascinated by the elusive and secret ninja clans. I could endlessly digress on the topic of eiga (Japanese cinema), but that would take away from the item at hand. What we are looking at is a dual purpose weapon surreptitiously disguised as a simple kiseru (pipe).
First off, its a functional pipe. That use is what will get it passed any security searches, as well as serve a purpose in one of it’s nefarious secondary uses. More on that later. It is accompanied by a black powder delivery device. I conjecture that it is used much like any other muzzle loaded gun; load the powder, add some wadding, then add the projectile followed with more wadding to hold it all in. To fire, you probably just add some sort of lit coal or anything burning into the bowl and BOOM. Useful at close range only, due to the barrel length, but I suppose that’s the point, being a secret weapon and all.
Now, once you’ve shot your target, you sit down, load the bowl with tobacco, shape the perfect coal from the hibachi provided in front of you by the hospitable host you just shot, and have a little smoking session. Since the bang might have caused some interest on the part of the guards that are inevitably hanging around, you might have to shorten your casual smoke break and think of some form of exit strategy, and that’s where the aforementioned secondary use comes into play. The black powder delivery device has a mouthpiece that allows you to blow whats left of its contents into the faces of the guards rushing after you. This is where it gets ugly, you then have to waste that fine tobacco left in your pipe by blowing it out of the bowl, therefore igniting the black powder clouding in the air, startling the guards and allowing you to make your escape in full ninja style. So cool. Click on either image to go to the auction listing for more pictures and information.
If you happen to be in Tokyo between April 3d and April 5th and have some spare time, you should check out Art Fair Tokyo 2009. Most of the exhibits are more focused on contemporary art, but there are four booths that I think you should visit that are antique based. I will quickly list the vendors of interest and briefly describe what you will see.
Shouun Oriental Art: Booth D11. Artworks from the Jomon to Edo era. This should be super cool.
Mita Arts Gallery: Booth E06. Woodblock prints from the Edo to Meiji era.
Gallery Kono: Booth D01. Early Imari and Kakiemon Porcelain as well as examples of Maki-e lacquer.
Tannaka: Booth D13. Pottery from the Kamakura and Muromachi eras; Tamba-yaki, Tokoname-yaki, Shigaraki-yaki. As well as Noh artifacts; costumes, masks, and instruments.
There might be other exhibitors showing antiques, but these were the ones I found as I went through the exhibitor list which is extensive. Many have links to their home pages, so feel free to peruse them to see if anything else piques your interest (click here). You’ve got 2 weeks to book your flight, so check your calender, it looks like a huge exhibit not to be missed.
So far I’ve talked about writing boxes (suzuri bako) and portable writing sets (yatate), but I have yet really begun to talk about the implements that were necessary for calligraphy. Now I’ve always known about the inkstone (suzuri), ink stick (sumi), and the brushes (fude), and understood the general technique for making the ink into a liquid; put some water on the stone, grind the stick on said stone, and the ink would pool up in the little well at the bottom. The one necessary thing I never thought of was how to get the water to the stone; but now I know, and so shall you, a simple device called a suiteki.
The concept is very simple, a vessel with two holes, one for airflow and one for the water. The water hole is sized to allow just a few drops of water out at a time. I won’t go into too much specific detail more than that at this time, we’ll save that for later posts on the subject. I do want to describe this piece a bit.
Dated to around 1880′s, made out of bronze, and very small, 2-1/4″ long by 1-1/4″ wide by 5/8″ high. It has a beautiful patina as well as a very cool old fashioned sake gourd design raised in the upper corner. Click on the image to go to the original source for more info and pictures. Off topic, I’m a big fan of sake, especially a nice junmai daiginjo. Kampai.