The following query recently appeared on the Atlantian e-list:
"Recently I came into the possession of a late19th Century
"Yuusen-shippo" Cloisonn? "Koro" (Temple Incense burner). As we proceed
through the research on this item, the regular avenues(Auction Houses)
are pushing towards sales based information where I want to dig deeper.
At this time we have some certainties...such as the origin of the
piece during the Meiji Period(1868-1912). We "believe" the piece may
have been an early product of the Inaba Company, founded by Former
Samurai Inaba Isshin in 1886. If this is true, then the piece may well
have been created by the former Samurai himself!
The Koro is done in shades of brown, rust, a burnt yellow and green and
the enamel has a speckled appearance. The body has rust colored
shields with goldstone and this background surrounds a Ho-Ho bird. The
alternating shields, which depict a dragon, have a speckled rust/beige
background. Near the shoulder of the Koro is a highly decorated burnt
yellow speckled band with a flower design and this serves as the background
for small cartouches that have either a central butterfly or flower."
Both Ii-dono and I have responded with essentially the same
information...that the piece is an export piece and therefore, the Meiji
dating is probably accurate. This is based on the very elaborate
decoration, along with the shield shapes on the piece. We also told him
that it is based on an ancient Chinese ding shape...and Ii-dono
indicated that this was probably because importers from Europe were
already familiar with the shape as the Chinese had been exporting to the
West for a long time.
It would appear that the gentleman's main question has to do with the
manufacture of the piece. It is not signed, so he assumes (along with
his sources...an antiques house) that it has to predate 1890 as the
Japanese did not sign their work until after that date. He wants to
know if it can be identified as being specifically from the Inaba
factory...or made by the samurai Inaba Isshin. The gentleman goes on to
state when asked about any markings on the koro:
"No there are not, which it turns out is a good thing as well as bad
according to those authorities who want me to sell the piece.
While it is bad in the identification department, it is good because the
Japanese artists did not start signing their work until later. So the
fact it is not signed dates it between 1860 and 1890 depending on who
Ii-dono and I both disagree with this statement as we know that swords
were signed earlier, and IIRC, at least pottery names were signed onto
their pieces, though individual potters didn't start signing their work
So. What I'm wondering is if anyone on this list has any kind of
experience with this sort of thing. I am attaching pictures of the
koro....if they don't make it through, if someone would like to see
them, let me know and I'll send them to you privately.
Thanks for your time....
"/It is only with the heart /that one can see clearly; what is essential
is invisible to the eye."
--Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, /The Little Prince/
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