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Impressions on Folding Fans
June 9, 2013 - 10:27 am
Antiques : Regional Art : Asian : Japanese : Paintings

Rimpa School Fan Painting of Pine.Thoughts on Folding Fans.

The folding fan has become a rare sight today, excluding period costume gatherings, fanatics in Chinese or Japanese culture and fashion, or on a wall of a Chinese restaurant. Yet, most people are surprised to know about the history of how the folding fan came into being. The folding fan was thought to be invented around the 8th century in Japan. Initially the fan was constructed from strips of cedar wood strung together and were used as notepads (some go to the extent that the folding fan was the ancient version of a smartphone). By the Heian Period (794-1185), the design that the world is familiar with was developed. 

Even with the new re-designed and improved folding fan, they were not used to bring in cool breezes. Fans were used as a communication tool, subtly to express inner emotions, at times poems were written and sent between lovers, and special mannerisms using the fan were created. 

As trade expanded, the folding fan was introduced in Asia and in turn into Europe and distinct designs and cultures were born as the folding fan became popular. Yet seeing the folding fan from the west back to its homeland in Japan, it is interesting to see how the folding fan evolved simultaneously throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, where both cultures valued the folding fan as a key accessory and both used the fan as ways of communication. 

 



Rare Daimyo Oniwayaki Yusentei Hanging Flower Vase
March 13, 2013 - 6:31 pm
Antiques : Regional Art : Asian : Japanese : Earthenware

Rare Daimyo Oniwayaki Yusentei Hanging Flower Vase

Oniwa-yaki, are wares that were produced by different lords who ruled the various provinces in Japan during the Edo Period (1600-1868). Unlike the famous Bizen, Tamba, and Seto wares which were produced for mass consumption, use, and sometimes for special clientele, the Oniwa-yaki were produced for fun, not for profit. Most of the lords were already retired from their official duties and would establish a villa near the castle and a small kiln would be made, literally "in the gardens" of their villas and would create tea bowls, flower containers, and other tea utensils. When the pieces are done firing, most would be used or given as small gifts or souvenirs to vassals, aides, and close friends.

Today, this tradition is now somewhat non-existent but one person is following thi tradtion is former prime minister, Hosokawa Morihiro. Hosokawa's family did produce a few Oniwa-yaki pieces in the past in their domain in Kumamoto and now Hosokawa Morihio is continuing this legacy and tradition with his own works.

Scholastic research on these wares are sparse since not many have appeared in public view and only a few examples have appeared recently in regional museums and castles in Japan. Outside of Japan, the term is not known widely and only a few would know its history. Further scholastic research and increased visibility with current objects are needed to illuminate the subject, but hopefully in the future, Oniwa-yaki will be understood and stand in rank with other notable wares.