Antiques 7-25-09

Not a lot of antiques learning this week. It is heating up in Japan and most of the dealers are closing down for the month of August. Mr. Kawase is open through the month.
The conversation today was wide ranging. A lot of it was on how forgers get so good in making fakes. The topic was sparked by the piece in the photos.  The piece is about 1,100 years old. It is a cover for nails in a temple.  They are placed over any nails that are visible. It is held in place by nails inserted into the three holes on the outer perimeter of the piece. If you go to a temple or shrine you will see many of these on the outside of buildings. If you look at the photos you will see some gold leaf. When they are new, a thousand years ago, they were all covered in leaf.  The way they are used on the walls of the shrines only lets rain hit the top half, the half facing the ground doesn’t take direct hits from the rain. The gold leaf is gradually worn off the top half. It isn’t worn off in a clean pattern.

Back to the forgers.

When Mr. Kawase was younger he would go to where forgeries were made in order to see examples of good quality antiques. The people doing the forging would be the best educated in the area of details of antiques. They would study actual pieces in all the details in order to get the forgery right. The use of old wood and authentic materials was an area that got special attention. In the case of nail covers the curve of the bulbous area is a clear indication of a fake or not. Most forgeries have the termination point in a straighter line, genuine covers have the termination line returning inward a small amount to make the shape more rounded. One of the reasons good fakes aren’t made any more is the scaricty of very old wood. There was a period when many temples sold off or let the old wood be carted off. There are collectors of nail covers. Usually very discerning collectors of statues augment their collection with these covers.

The conversation then went to a special that NHK is putting together on a ring that is stealing statues from temples and shrines in the Nara area. There have been 6 or so stolen in the past year. Mostly from the Meiji era. The older statues are better protected and not that easy to walk off with. Mr. Kawase had a judgement on the theives very similar to a man named Onye Onyemaechi, see here or here. Mr. Kawase and Mr. Onyemaechi both said that those that steal will run in to spirit touble. I took the Performance Rooted in Ceremony and Ritual workshop at Humbolt State in the early 90s that had Mr. Onyemaechi as a teacher. He is the first person to show me I am a  person of fire. Prescient observation.

One of the other topics that came up was Mr. Kawase’s first business. He opened a coffee shop in the Shinsaibashi area of Osaka right after returning from World War II. Coffee was 70 yen a cup. Very expensive I do believe. There was a shop owned by a couple in a more down market area that sold coffee for 15 yen a cup. The cost for supplies was 13 yen a cup so their markup was very small. There were always around 30 bicycles lined up out in front of their shop and the woman’s hand was lined in precious stones so Mr. Kawase reckons they did well.

Mr. Kawase got a hearing aid. Very fancy one. It connects through a wireless link to the telephone so he can answer the phone. It turns out he got a call from a client in Nagoya a couple of months ago and sent him an antique that was requested. Mr. Kawase then got a call from a different client asking why he had sent the antique. It turns out Mr. Kawase couldn’t hear the name of the client clearly enough to understand.

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2 Responses to “Antiques 7-25-09”

  1. Matt Katz Says:

    Hi,
    My name is Matt Katz and I write Slipcast Blog (http://www.slipcast.blogspot.com). I am collecting a master list of ceramics blogs. I have added your blog to my list, Please check it out. If you know of a blog that I have missed. Please let me know.
    Love your blog,
    Thanks
    Matt

  2. Antiques 2-7-10 « Togeii's Weblog Says:

    […] next piece I have written about before here. I think one of the most important qualities in antiques and ceramics is the ability to see beauty. […]

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