Antiques 5-1-10

The first item I looked at today is a Heian period Yama Chawan, a tea bowl. They were fired  stacked up about 40 cm. tall. Only the top one would get covered by fly ash. The bottom bowls would only get a sprinkling of ash and sell for much less. The Heian period pieces have this  slightly flared shape. As the pieces evolved into the Kamakura period the shape became more closed. The foot is attached after removing the finished bowl from the wheel. It was fired on a padding of rice husks. This is a little confusing as the marks from the husk are clearly visible and deeply incised. This suggests either the husk was applied almost immediately after removing the piece from the wheel or there was some other material that was used that resembled rice husk. It isn’t really possible for the husk to leave an indent at temperatures where the clay is soft from heat as the rigidity of the husk disappears as the temperature rises and burns out.

The second bowl is repaired from a piece of green ceramic from the Heijo palace. This was done in the spirit of copying pieces that were repaired that way. That is to say the piece was purposefully broken and repaired. It isn’t easy to break a piece in that manner. I guess there are specialized tools to get a break in the correct size. The glaze is an extremely thin application applied by brush. Glaze was a much more precious item back in the day.

The next bowl I have photographed before and posted. It is a Diabutsu chawan, from Seto.

The next photos are taken from a book of the collection of the Kitano Museum in Kyoto. Notice the potato chip can lid.

The next two pieces are two sets of kamakan, things you use to hold the kama in a tea ceremony. The first are large and for a large kama, the second are a set I have photographed before. They were made by a 113 year old blacksmith. Kamakan are used in opposing positions. They are inserted in opposite directions into the holes of the kama, the spiral goes in opposite directions.

The next is the star of the show. It is a genuine Muromachi period kama from the Echizen Ashiya area, a place where iron kettles were  traditionally made. The holes where the kamakan go, if they are made in the shape of an animal or an ogre are called kimen. The first photo is of a different Edo period kama just for comparison.

The last is a gotoku from the Genroku period. If my notes are correct the lines on the inside of the ring made during the casting and are called horenge.

The owner of the antiques shop is having his 50th. year anniversary tea gathering this week, it is his 88th. year and the 1,300 year mark for Nara. That is why everything today is about the tea ceremony.


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9 Responses to “Antiques 5-1-10”

  1. Whimsical Winston Says:

    Wonderful unique creations !!

  2. Philippe Papadimitriou (Switzerland) Says:

    Dear Dave,

    Thank you very much for your blog!! It is more than interesting for me in many aspects.

    I love it when you attach price tags to the objects you show via your blog. When prices are not declared, is that because you do not know about them or because it is not worth mentioning them..? any other reason?

    I have a little collection of ceramics and other pieces for chanoyu. I recently wanted to part with some as I want to improve the quality of my collection. Most pieces are of course of far less quality than what your expert dealer sells (and that you let us take a glimpse at), but I have some excellent pieces as well, I guess.

    The precision of prices interests me a lot, as I collect. If you can (even roughly) give me some more info on this topic, I would appreciate.

    Many thanks and all my best!


    • togeii Says:

      Hello Philippe,
      Thank you for reading.
      I will try to put more information on price.
      The price can be skewed by a not so obvious factor. Guarantee. Often a reputable dealer will command a 20-50% or more premium because in addition to the object because you are getting the authenticity guarantee. The dealers “face” is included in the price.

  3. Philippe Papadimitriou (Switzerland) Says:

    Thanks Dave,

    This happens also in other art sectors, but I am not surprised to learn Japanese people need this kind of additional insurance. The best pieces I have were collected in Japan and the one I paid the most is a scroll that was exhibited at a Japanese famous museum (photocopies of the catalog were attached). I guess this aspect of guarantee is also linked to this old authentification habit, which is quite unique in art.

    By the way, if you have a chance to mention the price for some of the old piece presented, that would be a fantastic addition for me.



    • togeii Says:

      I have often seen photocopies of a piece for sale included in the sale lot. The museum directors reputation is on the line in these situations. A mistake by a well know director carries a high price in prestige. I have learned a tremendous amount from the studying I have done. I absolutely think the world of antiques is a world where the most educated “wins”.
      I will post some prices in the future. If you have a specific piece please let me know and I will see if I can see how much it is worth.

  4. Philippe Papadimitriou (Switzerland) Says:

    Thank you, Dave.

    I have found someone interested in my pieces at quite good prices.
    My request is related to the Japanese market as it is always fine for me to know more on what it takes financially to build a good collection.
    I have been reading quite much in English and my only frustration now is that I do not read Japanese as most of the important references are not translated yet. Probably because it is too specific to cover a wide audience and make money out of such books. I have to stick on the pictures and this is by no mean enough, but still better than just getting books edited in other languages. I also check the Mainichi auctions (Tokyo/Osaka) on the web. A sale related to chanoyu is held every three months. The pictures are small and the descriptions quite poor, but it adds to the knowledge anyways. I agree with you that education and, better, scholarship are the recquired elements in antiques.



  5. togeii Says:

    I agree the best resources aren’t translated. There are excellent books here on most aspects of antiques.
    An excellent free resource is the site They will send a free catalog 4 times a year but only in Japan. If you are interested in getting them sent to you maybe we can work things out if you will pay postage which would be about 30$ a set. There are usually 4 sets that come out a year. It is an excellent source of up to date price information.
    Here is a different site, focused on Chinese work. They won’t send out of country either.
    Mainichi has a steep fee for their catalogs so I don’t get them although they are very nice.

    • Philippe Papadimitriou (Switzerland) Says:

      Hello Dave,

      Thanks for the links and very kind opportunity (!). It really sounds great! I will think about it after having checked the web sites. I didn’t know about these auction houses.
      I shall let you know soon.
      I guess you have my e-mail address; it should be better to discuss all that via e-mail if you do not mind.

      Many thanks and take care.


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