Antiques 5-16-09 and another one that got away.

One of the games I play at the auctions I go to is to try to find pieces that are from the Kamakura or Momoyama period.  Here is another one that got away. I am talking about the first pictures in the set below. I did look at this piece a number of times as it and I made our way around the room but decided it was a newer piece although I did place it as from  Tokoname. I just thought it looked far younger than its 700 years. So much for flattery. It went for a price well within my budget although that is probably because most people missed it. The photos from the book is of a typical Kamakura period Tokoname vase. The base is usually more rounded. This one that came up for auction has been cut off  far higher than usual giving it a flatter appearance.

During the last Wakakusa Auction I had a number of opportunities to bid on objects, none of which went smoothly. I have decided to focus on only those pieces that I really like, not on ones that I think I can sell. To see how good I am at picking things that sell well I only have to look at all the unsold things around me. What I very quickly discovered this last time is most of the pieces I like shot right out of my price range.  The first item I bid  on was a Meiji period lamp shade. My wife loves glass and she really wanted it. It went up on the block and the opening bid was 15,000 yen to which I replied “Hai”. The auctioneer then repeated the 15,ooo opener to which I repeated my “Hai” , a little louder, to no avail. The auctioneer said he heard a lot of “Hai’s”, but didn’t acknowledge me. The third call had me bending over the big guys that sit on either side of him and practically yelling my “Hai”, to which he then took the lamp shade off the block saying the minimum bid hadn’t been met. Confused r me. I then realized the opening bid is only a base and the first bid should be higher unless the object is going for what ever it can get as opposed to a predetermined minimum price. The person putting the lot up would be the one to determine the minimum price. This cutting analysis on my part led to the next fiasco.

I next bid on a copper hibachi. The bidding started out too high but quickly dropped down to what I thought was a very reasonable price. Having learned that the first price should be met and increased at least a little I then extended four fingers, 4,000 yen, and in the several nano seconds it took me to raise my hand the bidding had gone from a minimum of 3,000 yen down to “Doesn’t anyone even want to give 1,000 yen for this” just as my fingers came up. So I blurted out 3,000 yen holding out four fingers. Do you know how hard it is to lower a finger? The auctioneer only heard my voice, didn’t see my fingers but the guy on his right did see my fingers and helpfully blurted out 4,000 yen on my behalf. Holding my half eaten banana in one hand, my three and a half fingers still extended in my other I did get it for 3,000 but only after a good laugh from everyone.

I did unsuccessfully try to bid on a couple of other lots but all in all it was a comedy routine.

The five plate set that I saw on my weekly Saturday study session are very interesting.  Shino Oribe. Momoyama period. They are repaired in a way called “yobitsugi” I think the characters are yobi which means to invite or call and tsugi which means  to patch. I am fitting the meanings to match this particular usage. Yobi and tsugi have a number of meanings.

The area being repaired is an area that was damaged as the piece came out of the kiln. So these plates came out of the kiln with kiln damage. They were then repaired with pieces of plates from completely different plates. I find them very beautiful. This way of repairing by using completely unrelated work as an infill shows a very interesting side of the Japanese in my opinion. Maybe it is a common practice in other countries. It reminds me of a discussion I had about the way Japanese make signature seals. The person I was having the discussion with had primarily studied Chinese seals. He found the examples I presented infuriating in their lack of logic. I hadn’t picked out particularly esoteric examples, in fact I would say very run of the mill seals. But to him they completely lacked logic and couldn’t believe they were real.

The difference between this kind of plate and the mukotsuke or more specifically the yoseimuko (see last post) is mukotsuke are deeper, more like bowls. These plates are called “torisala”. Tori for take, sala for plate. They are intended to be used by an individual to hold single portions taken from a main serving dish. They are not a matching set but the term “mukotorisala” doesn’t seem to apply.

Some interesting points.

The feet are robust. As the work gets newer the feet get more delicate. These feet would be difficult to damage.  If I made plates that are this heavy or had this much weight concentrated in the feet I am pretty sure I would be staring at them for the next twenty years because no one would buy them.

The clay is very fine. The clay from the Momoyama era is extremely smooth and has a fine grain. It is difficult to find clay of this quality today.


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