Antiques 8-15-09

This is a piece of roofing tile from the Hakuho period, 645-710. There are very few of these around. I have heard less than 5 extant.  The design is a lotus flower. This design evolved into the design called onigawara. For a more accurate use of the terminology the lotus design was the original “onigawara”. Breaking down the word you come up with “kawara”, which means tile, used exclusively for roofing tiles. It changes to “gawara” in this combination. “Oni” means demon, ogre, gnome.  For a detailed description of the lotus flower see here or for a general description of the onigawara see here Interestingly neither of these mention the evolution into the gargoyle permutation of the lotus flower. This site mentions the transition from the lotus motif. It is in Japanese. This site has a short description of the the same tile that I have in the picture. Japanese too. The transition to the gargoyle form happened in the Kinki area around the Tempyo era, 729-749.  The Kinki area is the area around Nara. The tile in the pictures from the book comes from the  Okayamakumetera

There are a couple of pictures of rubbings taken from the tile. They are made by placing a piece of paper over the tile and rubbing charcoal to get an impression.

I have included a small celadon glazed  tile shard and a small shard from a green glazed plate. The tile shard is worth more than 30,000 yen even though it is small.

This tile came from a temple in Nara. There are also pictures from a couple of books and a shard of a celedon glazed piece. From the same period. Anything from that period that had a glaze on it would most certainly come from an emperors temple.


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