The Art and Orchid GalleryThe Art and Orchid Gallery
Antique Japanese Koro of Mixed Bronze Alloys

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Directory: Antiques: Regional Art: Asian: Japanese: Metalwork: Pre 1920: item # 1183397

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The Art and Orchid Gallery
7896 SE Peach Way
Jupiter, Florida

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Antique Japanese Koro of Mixed Bronze Alloys
The Art and Orchid Gallery's large koro, or incense burner, has a vented, domed cover and applied sentoku bronze alloy shi shi atop a twin-handled elongated ovoid bronze burner with three feet on a base.[197A, 25B, 120C, 9D] The Japanese are famous for their use of mixed metals, particularly in koros and vases. On our metalwork a cast bronze corseted, pierced dome of mixed patinas has an attached sentoku, golden tone satin sheen bronze alloy shi shi, via rivets.[120C, 25E] Stylized 'mountain, sea and wave' motif is carved around the top and bottom constriction of the domed cover separated by a soldered fillet.[42F] The Japanese achieved various patinas and tones of color on their metalwork using different alloys of copper; different metals, e.g. gold on copper; and a pickling process to metals.[197G, 25H] Three distinct colors are demonstrated on our koro cover: the traditional bronze chocolate brown, the sentoku shi shi gold tones, and between them malachite green, a carbonate oxidation of copper, probably due to rising heat in the koro. The koro body is mostly chocolate brown bronze patina but there is a red-brown patina on the clouds, tree bark, waves and carved rock elements; and gold and gray colors on incised parts and applied elements including the monster heads with tongues used for handles and feet. Some of the color tones can be achieved by the type of incising: i.e. how close it is spaced as well as changing the direction of the cutting, e.g. the bird's feathers. The Meiji carving artist, Kano Natsuo, was famed for his ability to produce metal colors by incising alone and avoided mixed metals for patina changes.[113K] Finally, there is the 'patine noire un peu mate', or dull black patina known from the 17th Century (the golden age of Japanese bronzes) found in and around incised and carved parts of the koro.[197L] We believe, however, that it has been applied here since it can be removed by cleaning. The bird and floral motif, which is very common on Japanese metal art, are images in relief on this koro burner.[25H, 197G, 9D] On one side are the two cormorants diving into reddish waves.[143M] The Japanese are known for training cormorants to fish for them. The other side's relief carvings are two long tailed birds among the reddish patina rocks and flying between Prunus flowering branches. The monster heads with the very long tongues separate these two heavy relief motifs. Finally, this koro burner is supported by three monster heads with tongues and legs into a double platform bronze base with incised scroll work and a carved dragon relief surrounded by incised waves. Similar looking bronze Japanese koros and vases are referenced.[9D, 25N, 113O, 197P] The bronze is in very good or better condition. It has had some old restoration to the cover. It is a fine specimen of a Japanese metal craft from the fin de siecle (of late Meiji Period). References available upon request. Size: ~ 23" H x 11" x 7"; weight: 18 1/2 pounds;

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