an amateur attempt to colect images of japanese metalwork and ivory masterpieces.
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Pair of kogo or incense containers in the form of nasubi or eggplants, one with a salamander in relief and one with a snail. Of uchidashi or hammered iron. One signed on the reverse of the box with the snail with a chiseled signature by the artist: Myochin Muneyoshi (Myochin Muneyoshi, died before 1781, per Robert E. Haynes' The Index of Japanese Sword Fittings and Associated Artists, volume 2, page 1244), and the other ornamented with a salamander signed on the reverse with a chiseled signature by the artist: Myochin Norimune Ason . Edo Period, mid 18th century.
2" high x 5" x 2.75", kogo with salamander. 2" high x 4.25" x 2 5/8", kogo with snail.
In 1868, following the downfall of Japan's military government, the Emperor Meiji was restored to power. Japanese artisans, particularly metalworkers, lost their traditional samurai patrons and were obliged to find new markets for their skills. Emerging from its feudal past, Japan developed as a modern industrialised and economic power. It employed western technicians and advisors to work with Japanese artisans in developing new and improved methods of production. At the great international exhibitions that were then in vogue, Japan displayed its traditional arts and crafts, as well as other forms of manufacture. The objects illustrated here illustrate many of Japan's traditional metalworking techniques, such as bronze-casting, patination, decorative inlay and chasing (fine working of the finished surface). These had previously been used to great effect on arms and armour for the samurai, but here they have been transferred to purely decorative objects. Like other forms of art produced during the Meiji period (1868-1912), these pieces illustrate a fascinating fusion of traditional Japanese techniques and themes with western forms and ideas.