Antiques 1-23-10

I have a couple of old items today.

The first one is a Heian or Tempyo (or here) era flask for water. It doesn’t have a base and so has to sit on a rice straw ring. It is chipped and the glaze is coming off. The shape of the loops where a strap would be attached is very beautiful.

The next piece is a scroll that was hanging in the tokonoma. The subject is very interesting. Behind the byubo you see a hat that shows that the man is cleaning up to go to meet an important person. He is sitting in front of a mirror.  Take a look at the detail in the mirror. The reflection of the mans hand is visible. The woman helping him isn’t dressed as his wife would be so it must be his lover, mistress. The painter, the late Yanagizawa Kien,  is a very well known scroll painter from the Nara area. He is so popular that his themes are copied widely and sold as his. I heard a story of a Japanese business man that was going to the U.S. on business and wanted to take some gifts. He went to an antiques dealer he knew and asked what would be an appropriate gift. The dealer suggested scrolls, easy to transport and impressive when opened. The dealer then let the man pick from about 30 counterfeits from this artist, saying foreigners wouldn’t know the difference. I have details of the box too.

The last piece is a gift I got from the dealer. It is a piece of wood that dates to the Heian period. It has been split and left rough to ensure it fits back together snugly. The inside has been hollowed out and a gold leaf applied. It is for traditional Japanese incense. Mr. Kawase had 88 made for his birthday tea “kai”. This  tea gathering is on his 88th. birthday, an auspicious number, it is the 50th. year he has been doing these gatherings, and this year is the 1,300 year anniversary of Nara.

Here is a page that explains why the 88th. birthday is called “beiju”, 米寿. It has to do with the writing of the numbers 8, 八, 10,十 and 8, 八. The “bei” of “beiju” is the character for “rice”.

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