Antiques 12-18-10, how to tie a knot.

I saw a number of interesting items today.

The first item is a Chinese bowl from the beginning of the Edo period. It is a nicely painted  bowl with a net motif. The inside is more roughly done than the outside. The quality is such that it was probably made for the Japanese market. A bowl of that type made for the Chinese market or for export to Europe wouldn’t be as relaxed. That is one of the reasons I prefer Japanese pieces to Chinese. I think people from the “West” find it much easier to understand the Chinese rationalistic approach as it shows up in their arts and crafts. The Japanese  emotional approach is more difficult to square. The reddish box is for the bowl, the box was made in Thailand. It is lacquered wood. The design was first ‘carved’ out and then the lacquer applied. It, the box, is an inner box, the pictures I have included on how to tie a knot is the actual outer box.   The bag is also very nice.

The next series is on how to tie the cord on a tea bowl. The series of pictures shows the steps up to the tying of the bow. True, a picture is worth a thousand words.  I have tried to explain the process but it probably isn’t clear. I think the best take away is how to find the top of a box.


Think of the box as a clock. The top of the left side of the box is 11:00, the top right is 1:00, the bottom left is 7:00 and the bottom right is 5:00. The “top” of the box is determined by the longer side of the box. So if the box has 2 sides that are longer than the other two the “top” will be the top left corner as the box sits with a longer side in the 11:00/7:00 and 1:00/5:00 position.  Difficult to explain but orient the box so the two longer sides are sitting parallel to your arms, i.e., not perpendicular to your arms. The top will be the top left corner.

The top of the lid will be determined first by finding how the grain of the wood runs. The lid should be oriented so the grain of the wood used for the lid runs the same direction as the longer edge of the box. The signature will then be at the top right. This works for a box signed or written on by someone who knows this traditional way of orientation.

If the cord is correctly threaded into the box the “square” part will then be pulled up over the corner of the box per picture #4. The clock analogy means the “square” part will be pulled over the 11:00 corner.

The cord closest to your body, clock analogy means the cord coming out of the box between the 7:00 and 5:00 side, should then be laid out OVER the squared cord and them looped under  it, per pictures #5, 6 and 7. The remaining part of that cord should then be laid out over the top right corner, clock analogy means the 1:00 corner. Please not the picture marked #8 shows the cord closest to your body correctly looped through the center mass but incorrectly laid out to the 11:00 corner. It should be laid out to the 7:00 corner.

The cord on the right side of the box, 1:00 and 5:00 side,  should then be laid OVER  the squared off cord and the other cord and then looped under the “squared” cord so it can be laid to the bottom left corner, the 7:00 corner.  Picture #8.

The whole thing can then be tied off in a bow. I have a video here,

The next item is a E Shino mukotsuke from the Momoyama period. At the height of the bubble in Japan it sold for about 15,000$. It is now used as a hibachi for tobacco. I have written about a similar mukotsuke here.

The next items are somewhat related.

The first is a Hagi tea bowl with the “dai” letter in it. I have written about a similar bowl and Mr. Kawase’s father here and here.  I was at the auction when Mr. Kawase bought it. He was the second bid and his bid was 8 times the opening bid. He wanted it because his father had written on the lid.

That bowl and the next bowl are from a long gone era in Japan, in Nara. The second bowl was made by a former head priest of Kasuga Shrine in Nara. His tea name was  Miyagawa Shinsan. His actual name was different. I don’t know what name he had for being the head of the shrine.  Kawase’s father’s friend, he had a tea ceremony ‘party’ every month for 100 months.  The pictures for the tea ceremony record for what was used in each of the 100 meetings follow after the pictures of the bowl. Mr. Miyagawa asked Kawase’s father to be the “kama wo kakeru” person for the 1st.,  50th.,  and 100th. ceremony. I am a little unsure what “kama wo kakeru” means in this context but it is the first name on the records I took pictures of. I like the records because they list every item used, including the tea.

The last pictures are from an encyclopedia and the entry is on Tanegashima. I have just finished a very interesting discussion with a Danish man on the differences between Tanegashima ware and Nanban ware. My understanding is that Tanegashima Nanban is a relatively new invention. The entry seems to back  that up in the sense it doesn’t have references to ceramics being produced in earlier periods. The encyclopedia is aimed toward tea practitioners so it would seem it would mention such an important fact if it was so.

I have come to question if the type of work I do should be called Nanban at all. Nanban has such a wide meaning that to apply it as a name to unglazed ceramics seems strange.


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