A Kakiemon style porcelain six lobed dish. Cobalt blue underglaze and red, green, yellow, blue and black outline overglaze enamel decoration of 'three friends of winter' (pine, bamboo and prunus). Assymetry of decoration, as well as palette, typical of Kakiemon type porcelains. But the quality of decoration (though good inside the dish), potting and mark speaks to a more general 'Arita' attribution. Some kiln grit adheres inside the foot rim. 19th century. Condition is good, with a few small glaze flakes outside the rim on one lobe, and with some wobble to the potting, and minor kiln faults and light scratches. Diameter from 5 7/8 inches (15.1 cm) to 6 1/4 inches (15.7 cm) [recall the mention of "wobble"]. Height from 1 5/16 (3.3 cm) inches to 1 1/2 inches (3.7 cm).
An Arita porcelain seashell form, scalloped dish with tall foot. Enamel decoration of Ho-o (Japanese mythological Phoenix) in the Kakiemon pallete - black, red, blue, green, yellow and gold overglaze enamel - applied over the glaze inside the dish. Slightly opaque white, large bubble suffused glaze with faint celadon pooling in recesses. Kiln grit adhering to the unglazed foot rim. An old label remains taped inside the foot proclaiming the dish to be 18th century Kakiemon ware (but probably Arita and possibly as late as the 19th century.) Very good condition. Length, 6 11/16 inches (17 cm). Width, 5 1/4 inches (13.3 cm). Height: 1 1/8 inches (3 cm).
A fine Arita blue and white four lobed bowl. Decoration of Sennin Chokaro with his gourd attribute in landscape, centered by extraordinary shironuki (drawn in white) decoration in the cavetto - each of four panels with a different auspicious figure and attributes. The outside of the shaped rim and sides also with simple shironuki decoration of a water border and a lotus blossom floating at each, dimpled corner. This accomplished work would have issued from aristocratic patronage rather than standard kiln production. Faint celadon tinge in the pooled glaze along the footrim. 18th - early 19th century. One flake inside the rim otherwise good condition. 5 7/8 to 6 inches (14.92 to 15.24 cm) across at the corners. About 1 1/2 inches (3.8 cm) high.
A fine little octagonal blue and white porcelain kakiemon style deep dish. Chocolate brown glazed rim, white body and clear glaze over cobalt blue decoration of a primitive, raised teahouse with loose thatch roof and slung entrance screen all under a large willow tree and, conspicuously, a spiderweb (perhaps to emphasize closeness to nature) in the foreground. The interior wall and rim decorated with repeating pattern and karakusa (scrolling vine and leaf). Karakusa also appearing on the exterior wall. Blue rings around the foot, a blue ring inside the foot centering a mark - appears to read Yoshi and Ga (Ka) and possibly another stylized character from the center line. One might call it a variant on the Fuku mark in this context but it looks rather like an artist and possibly a place reference for a private kiln (which would have been Daimyo sponsored in the period). The mark on the verso is aligned with the decoration on the front - an indication of attention to detail expected also of authentic fine Chinese ceramics. An extraordinary work, finely potted and deftly painted. Very good condition with light rubbing on the interior from wear and a small kiln fault there where the glaze crawled a little. Certainly early 18th century and not implausibly reaching to the end of the Genroku era (1704). About 5 1/4 inches (13.34 cm) diamater at the sides, 5 5/8 inches (14.3 cm) diameter at the corners, about 1 5/16 inch (3.33 cm) high.
A fine Japanese blue and white porcelain dish. The foliate rim with chocolate brown glaze, the white porcelain body and glaze, and the fine attention to detail all suggest Kakiemon type. The cavetto with decoration of flowering plants including peonies, prunus and others. The center decorated with a bird (perhaps a flycatcher) in fruited branches, rockery and bamboo leaves below. Both the cavetto and center with reverse technique where the underglaze cobalt blue forms the background of the decoration. Finely defined chatter marks inside the footrim centering five spur marks. Remnants of an old label adhere to the back. The decoration has the feel of Chinese inspiration. Emulation of traditional Chinese porcelain decoration, and certainly Chinese porcelain marks, is not without basis. I have not come upon quite this decoration before and would consider it, along with the quality of this work, to be rare and early - probably Genroku era. One hairline issues from the rim where a flake on the front has an old repair, otherwise good condition. This dish would be an excellent candidate for a proper kintsugi (gold lacquer) repair. Diameter 8 7/8 inches (22.5 cm), Height 1 1/16 inch (2.7 cm).
A small, two compartment medicine box. Unlike most larger inro, this has no silk cord slide for wear. It must have been carried concealed. The surface subtly and adeptly uses the negoro technique, of using red and black lacquer, to impart a tortoiseseshell-like effect under a clear coat. A Tomoe mon appears on both sides - in relief on one side and bordered-recessed on the other. Truly an understated master work. The interior nashiji decorated. Signed Bunryusai in gold and with Kao in red. Bunryusai was a Kajikawa urushi artist. Good condition with light wear along edges of compartments - will condition easily in the hands of a qualified conservationist. External dimensions 1 5/8 inches (4.13 cm) long, 1 1/2 inches (3.8 cm) wide, 1 1/16 inches (2.7 cm) deep.
A large Tembo tsuba. The Tembo (or Tenpo) style evolved from the Saotome school and the sukashi decoration of Okiagari here (an especially nice feature) carries over. Okiagari are self righting toys and the subject was a symbol of inspiration to Samurai in aspiring to improvement and the right path in life. There is, on a curious level of interest, some minute trace of old gold decoration (long since worn off) on the surface of this tsuba. Though there are transitional examples, the present example has a drier feel more typical of Tembo iron (Saotome examples having a smoother, wetter feel.) The kozuka-ana plugged with, apparently, pewter. Edo period. Good condition with one small scratch (should be easily treatable.) Height 3 3/8 inches (85 cm), Width 3 3/16 inches (81.5 cm), and 5/32 of an inch (4 cm) thick.
A simple, small but stout iron tsuba. The Myochin line of metal workers were armor makers who also produced tsuba. The simple decoration upper-right here could be a flower head or a snowflake. Udenuki-ana appear lower left. Good condition. Height 2 3/4 inches (69 cm), Width 2 9/16 inches (65 cm), and 6/32 of an inche (5 mm) thick.
An Edo period iron tsuba with stylized wave motif. Carved and chiseled details on the waves enhancing the inference to water. The symmetric depiction likely a ka-mon (heraldic device). A nearly identical tsuba can be found in the Boston Museum of Fine Art, accession number 11.11500, with the minor exceptions of a more rounded seppa-dai in the present tsuba with gilt, kinko band probably intended to fit the tsuba with a particular koshirae. This tsuba must be the same school if not the same workshop as the BMA tsuba. Nami (wave) Mon was used by several families. A symmetrical variant not very unlike that used in this tsuba (repeated four times to form a mokko shape) was used by the Maeno (surname of an Oda Nobunaga retainer), the Soga, the Shimazaki and a few variants by the Oguri. 17th-18th century. Very good condition. About 2 3/4 inches (6.99 cm) high, 2 9/16 inches (6.51 cm) wide, 3/16 inches (.48 cm) thick.
A 16th century Yoshiro Zogan tsuba. The type is named for a Kaga province artist considered to have advanced the late Onin period brass inlay art to that of hira-zogan - flush with the iron surface. The school also took hold in other provinces, most notably Bizen. The mokko-gata form of this tsuba would appear to be uncommon for Yoshiro Zogan tsuba particularly of katana size. Eight ka-mon are inlaid in open work fashion. The remaining surface decorated with a network of brass inlay depicting algae. Hitsu-ana for kozuka and kogai also lined with brass. From the Onin period when brass inlay became popular, the metal was highly valued. This tsuba is late Muromachi period to possibly Momoyama period. It is in very good condition with apparently uneven rubbing to some of the inlaid brass while the patina on iron surfaces is undisturbed. The very light, old loss of brass inlay is good as this type of brass inlay often sees more loss as the underlying iron surrenders surface with oxidation. About 3 1/4 inches (9.53 cm) high, about 3 1/8 inches (7.94 cm) wide, about 5/32 inches (4 mm) thick.
A well forged, handsome mokume tsuba in mokko-gata form with katakiri-bori landscape decoration on both the omote and ura. The mokume grain is large and well controlled reminding one of ayasugi hada. In fact, this tsuba is indeed a tosho (swordsmith's) tsuba, being made by [Kai Ju] Kiyonaga and dated the third year of Bunkyo (1863) believed to be the same as KIY 298 referenced in Hawley's, Japanese Swordsmiths. Our angled, side view photographs more accurately portray patina and color as well as the mokume grain. Good condition. 3 5/8 inches (8.4 cm) X 3 3/8 inches (8.1 cm) and 7/32 inches thick (.55 cm) at the raised mimi and about 1/8 inch (.32 cm) thick at the seppa-dai. The raised mimi and no taper across the plate are atypical of traditional tosho tsuba. But the present example being 19th century, and toward the end of the Edo period, allows latitude for creativity. Ex Arnold Frenzel collection. If both sensitivity and strength are conveyed in the smith's blades as they are in this tsuba, I would be tempted to acquire one of his swords.
An armorer's (katshushi) tsuba by Miochin Munekane (signed.) Of smaller size associated with wakizashi. Engraved katakiri-bori flowers and vine decoration (six petals on vine, possibly clematis.) Artist line active between 1818 and 1887. Ex Robert Haynes collection. Good condition. A larger, sukashi tsuba at least by the same line, also signed Miochin Munekane, is in the Brooklyn Museum. 2 9/16 inches (6.5 cm) X 2 3/8 inches (6.1 cm) and 1/8 inch (.4 cm) thick.
A small saotome school armorer's tsuba. Chrysanthemum form suggested by the individually open worked petals defined also along the rim. Otherwise a simple presentation. A single kozuka-ana obviously original to the work. Probably later Muromachi period (16th century.) A good school and type to be represented in any serious tsuba collection. Good condition but with light pitting on the ura and mimi. We have added scans which show the darker patina more accurately, rubbed slightly on the rim, smooth to touch, no active rust. 2 11/16 inches (6.8 cm) X 2 1/2 inches (6.3 cm) and 5/16 inches (.4 cm) thick.
A strong mokogata iron tsuba of tight mokume. I favor mokume work and this is a virtuous example worthy of any collection. Boar's eye sukashi decoration in the four corners. Uchikaeshi mimi. Tekkotsu evident along the mimi. Good condition with light rubbing of the patina. Edo period. 3 (7.6 cm) inches x 2 11/16 (6.8 cm) inches
A simple, four lobed armorer's tsuba with simple pierced decoration perhaps depicting a landscape with structure. The udenuki-ana (cord holes) have the effect of completing the illusion of a Sesshu-like landscape. The saotome were armorers turned tsuba makers who worked in this manner and scale. Good condition with good tekkotsu. Sengoku era. 2 15/16 (7.46 cm) inches x 2 5/8 (6.67 cm) inches
A katchushi mutsu-gata sukashi tsuba. The six lobed, thin plated armorer's tsuba with good tekkotsu and with openwork decoration was described by Skip Holbrook (ex collection) as Saotome made and depicting three birds. The Saotome were a line of armorers (katchu) turned tsuba makers. But I think a case could be made for the sukashi decoration being a wabi-sabi flower bloom or possibly paulownia leaves (rather than awkward looking "birds".) Use of the paulownia (kiri) mon could suggest Yamakichibei as those tsuba makers, from Owari, were outfitting swords for the Oda and the Toyotomi - the latter using the kiri ka-mon. Good condition. 2 7/8 (7.3 cm) inches x 2 13/16 (7.14 cm) inches
A massive imari vase with decoration of the Genroku era of bijin (a beauty) and hana (flowers) on two opposing panels alternating with two more opposing panels of a structure (tea house?) in garden landscape - all in red, gold and black enamels with blue underglaze. Similar landscape decorated panels appear on the shoulder over a ground of hanabishi (flowery diamond) in repeating diamond bordered pattern. The hanabishi (sometimes also referred to as karabana, or 'Chinese flower') could be representative of a ka-mon (family crest). The prominent Takeda family and its branches used the hanabishi ka-mon onward after the Heian period. The Genroku era spanned from 1688 to 1704. The arts and luxuries reached their apex during this era of the Edo period - contributing to large, opulent expressions such as the present vase. Genroku style and influence continued for a short time after (as could this vase) while the Tokugawa Shogunate struggled with inflation after devaluing coin quality in an attempt to sustain the appearance of prosperity (sound familiar?) So in some ways the Tokugawa followed in the footsteps of the decadent Ashikaga. Good, stable condition save an old crack through the foot rim which might originate with the firing as a crazing pattern conforms along and around the crack as if from excessive heat (limited to inside the foot and the lower portion of one bijin panel.) Vase height (not including cover) is 15 7/8 inches (40.32 cm)
This vase is accompanied by a Chinese, late Qing dynasty, exquisitely carved hardwood cover. The fit is loose and the cover a bit small proportionately. As they did not start life together, we are amenable to selling the cover separately should someone have a need. The cover would best fit a large vase with interior rim diameter of no smaller than 4 9/16" (11.58 cm). The cover is 7 5/16" (18.57 cm) with the wood grain (there is substantial shrinkage of the wood against the grain with age.) The cover is in presentable condition with some glue evidence on the interior - probably from refitting after shrinkage.
This is one of the more intriguing lacquer objects we have owned. Adorned with maki-e Aoe (hollyhock) Ka-mon on nashiji ground (also known as the Kamo Aoi as it was sacred to the Kamo shrine), family crest for prominent daimyo families including the Tokugawa and the Matsudaira during the Momoyama and Edo periods. Even the drawer pull is fashioned as an open worked shibuichi Aoe Ka-mon with the surprise of a textured, kinko (soft metal) raised backing only if you look for it. More interesting yet is the unusual form of this object - perhaps an only opportunity to acquire an example. Resembling a food tray on stand, it nonetheless has a drawer (not common to the form.) And a tall cover comes with a screen (silk?) as if to permit viewing whilst keeping something either in or out. We have not found another example of the form and so are not certain if it might be a covered dining tray (though the drawer) if intended to keep bugs out. Or perhaps it is in fact an insect terrarium (someone suggested it might be a large "cricket cage" or for praying mantis - maybe even to observe mantis combat) keeping the bugs in as it were. We can only speculate at the moment and heartily welcome suggestions or insight - maybe something not yet considered. The covered stand is in rather good condition for a mid Edo lacquer object. Good condition with expected testimony of age and use. There are the usual small lacquer losses mostly to edging (not at all detracting.) There is some fading - varying to the extent exposed to light (see our enlargement comparing surfaces of exterior, screened interior, drawer interior.) There is one minutely small handle stop stud missing from the screened cover. 18th to early 19th century. 13 inches (33.02 cm) high, 9 5/8 (24.45 cm) inches wide, 12 inches (30.48 cm) long.
Since listing this item, someone has suggested its holding fireflies (hotaru) as a possible use.