Antiques 2-7-10

This video shows two processes. The first is tying the furoshiki on a small item. Notice the care taken with the sides. He takes care to fold all excess fabric into the main side folds. The second part is how to tie a “chocho musubi” when the strings come from one side of the box. Take note of if the string passes over or under in each step, if it goes from left to right, etc. The man tying is Mr. Kawase, 88 years old. He is demonstrating the proper way. Old school at its best.

Today I got a lot of pictures.

The first is a Shino yunomi from the end of the Momoyama or beginning of the Edo period. The motif is sasa or susuki. I would have never guessed this cup as from this period as it is much too clean. One hint of the age is the clay. Looking at the bottom the exposed clay is extremely fine-grained. It is easy to find this type of fine grain in porcelain but much more difficult in regular type clays. This yunomi also has almost no iron speckles visible in the body. More modern clay that tries to imitate these older bodies almost always have tell-tale iron impurities. I should say almost no iron speckles because there are a few. This cup also has a few chips, probably new as they are so clean.

The next piece is the star of the show. It is a long-handled water ladle used during Nigatsudo or here. Called a kozuishaku, 香水杓 and here is a picture of another one at the Miho museum. The ladle dates to the Kamakura period, clearly marked Koan, February 13th. 弘安 二月十三日。 Back in the day, maybe even now, women weren’t allowed to enter the main building where the praying took place. The women prayed outside the main building. After the praying and ceremonies  the head water person would use this to pour a little of the water into the hands of the women outside. The reason for the long handle is  to bridge  the inside where they were to  the hands that were outside. A note on age for these. The newer ones have a goose necked shaped pouring spout. The older ones have the shorter spout like this one. The goose necked spout gives better control of water coming out.

I heard an interesting story on the dating of items, especially on items that have the date engraved into them like this ladle. Mr. Kawase’s father was the head of a couple of prestigious committees, including one that decided on what would become an Important Cultural Treasure. He approved an item as original sent over from the Nara National Museum for authentification. The item, sent back to the museum but shortly there after the director came to say the date on the item was impossible as the reign ended one year before the engraved date. The elder Kawase didn’t say it directly to the director but afterward made a remark about youngsters these days not knowing all that much. It is possible to have an item that doesn’t match the reign date since news traveled much slower to the provinces back in the earlier periods and the craftsmen didn’t know the reign had changed. Mr. Kawase made a very good point that forgers wouldn’t make such an elementary mistake as to have a bad date.

The 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. This next piece is perfect for that. The round part on top is a nail cover. The bottom is a base custom-made for burning incense. This is a really beautiful combination, I am not sure it comes through in the pictures.

The picture with the piece of paper shows the concave shape of the bottom. 90% of these covers are fake. Fake ones won’t have this natural curve.

The last piece I have also written about. This shard, very expensive sansai or three color ware, has a set of incense boxes to show off both sides of the shard.

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