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Giuseppe Piva - Japanese Art

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Field of Pinks and Rising Moon
Momoyama period, early 17th century
Six-panel folding screen; ink, colors, gold leaf and silver on paper.
166 x 360 cm

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Otagaki Rengetsu

Flower vase shaped as a pumpkin
Height: 20 cm

A Rare ceramic hanging vase shaped as a hechima, engraved with a poem. 
Used in the tokonoma, this kind of vase is hanged either in the center of the wall or on one of the lateral pillars.

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Samurai armor signed Myochin Muneaki
Okegawa-do tosei gusoku

Late Edo period (1615-1867), 19th century

This Japanese armor features a good heavy sujibachi-kabuto made our of 24 riveted plates, adorned with an excellent gilt-wood dragon maedate and fitted with a hon-kozane shikoro (neck protection). The signature inside the helmet reads “Myochin ki Muneaki” and belongs to an armorer from the Myochin school who worked in Himeji (Harima) during the latter part of the Edo period. The kamon (family crest) of the Sakai family, for whose he worked, is printed on the two leather covers of the amour’s boxes. A nerikawa (boiled leather) mask (menpo) with long white mustaches completes the head’s protection.
The cuirass shows a peculiar style, with solid shoulder straps as common in the medieval suits and a horizontal plates construction typical of the “modern” armors.

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Folding screen with birds
Hara Zaichu (1750-1837)

Second half of Edo Period (1615-1867)
Six-fold screen: ink, pigments and gofun and gold on paper, cm 106 x 268
Signed: Hara Zaichu; artist’s seals
Kanagu with kiku (emperor’s seal)

The fine traditional composition shows very well defined birds and chrysanthemums with other flowers on a river, while the sky is left unpainted in plain paper, sprinkled with gold and silver flakes to render the clouds.

Pupil of Maruyama Okyo (1733-95), Hara Zaichu is one of the prominent Kyoto artists of his age. He was also influenced by the Tosa school as well as by later Chinese paintings, as clearly visible in the present work, which offers a classical Chinese composition with the details requested by the aristocratic customers. Zaichu created a personal strong style and formed his own school in Kyoto, called “Hara”, in the 1770s. With his pupils he also contributed to the decoration of the Kyoto Imperial Palace when that was rebuilt in 1790. In fact, most of his works had been commissioned by the imperial family and also the present screen must have been decorating some palace of a nobleman, as testified by the chrysanthemum crest on the kanagu.

In addition to those on display in the Kyoto Imperial Palace, paintings by Zaichū can be seen at the Kyoto National Museum, Shizuoka Museum, Iida City Museum, Daitokuji Temple, Ikkyūji Temple, and Shōkokuji Temple. Outside Japan, the British Museum holds one of his paintings.

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19th century
Maru-gata: 7.1 x 6.7cm
Thickness: 5,4 mm
Origami: the tsuba comes with a Tokubetsu Kicho certificate and a Hozon Tosoku certificate both issued by the NBTHK.

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Suiteki (water dropper)
Momoyama period (1573-1615)

Bronze, 5.2 x 8.5 x 7 cm

Modeled as a stylized hare with long ears, the round body inspired by the moon’s shape, to which the hare is often associated in Japanese culture.
Suiteki are small containers used to hold the water which is dropped on the inkstone during the grinding of the ink stick.

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An important Soden-Bizen katana attributed to Osafune Nagamori (長船長守). NBTHK Juyō Token.
Nanbokucho period, circa 1360

Nagasa [lenght]: 69.5 cm
Motohaba: 2.9 cm, sakihaba: 2.1 cm
Sori: 1.8 cm
Sugata [configuration]: shinogi-zukuri, tori-zori, iori-mune, enlongated chu-kissaki (3.9 cm)
Kitae [forging pattern]: itame mixed with mokume, plenty of small jinie and chikei, pale utsuri
Hamon [tempering pattern]: wider on the upper half; koshi-no-hirata mixed with fukushiki-o-gunome and choji gunome; ashi, yō mixed with tobiyaki, fine yubashiri, ko-nie, bright nioiguchi with kinsuji and sunagashi
Bōshi [point]: midare-komi, maruku-asaku (round, shallow) kaeru; yubashiri on ura side
Horimono: bo-hi on both sides
Nakago [tang]: o-suriage, kiri yasurime; two mekugi-ana and a partial one on the nakagojiri
Origami: the blade comes with a Juyō token (Important sword) certificate issued by the Nihon Bijutsu Token Hozon Kyokai (Session nr. 59)

Bizen swords made during the Nanbokucho period are called Soden-Bizen. Chogi and Kanemitsu, both included in the list of the Masamune Juttetsu (ten famous students of Masamune), are considered the best Bizen swordsmiths of this era. Swords by Chogi and his five students (Chogi II, Nagatsuna, Nagamori, Nagasuke and Nagatsuna) are documented between 1324 and 1375. Works by Nagamori are the rarest; he was contemporary of Chogi, worked in a very similar style and was very well respected by his master; he made tachi (mostly shortened to katana and hence unsigned like in this case), tanto and naginata blades. Surviving katana are very rare and this one is considered one of the best of his production.

Among Soden-Bizen smiths, the works by Chogi and his students show some distinct features inherited from the Soshu tradition and almost all of them can be found on this sword: the sugata is wide and powerful, sori is shallow and the kasane is thick, with scarce hira-niku. The steel tends to be soft and worked in an itame-hada mixed with mokume. The grain is tight and dense with nie forming chikei, a very difficult feature to obtain on Bizen’s soft steel. Sometime utsuri can be seen, very pale on this sword, but it is not very common. The hamon, generally o-midare mixed with choji-midare, is wide and gorgeous, mostly in nioi deki, as common for Bizen, but with profuse nie as well. Inside the ha there are many ashi and yo and on works with rich nie like this one, these activities form sunagashi, inazuma and kinsuji. The boshi is long and powerful, as typical of the works from the Nanbokucho period.

The blade comes with a good Higo koshirae. The tsuba is certified NBTHK hozon tosogu as Nishigaki.

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An ivory netsuke of a greyhound
Early 19th century
6.7 cm

This dog of lean build, is represented seated with its head lowered to the left, its legs are drawn in and wearing a simulated leather collar.

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Kuro-Negoro Heishi
Ritual sake vessel with urushi-e design of cranes and bamboo
Muromachi period (1392-1568), 15th century
Turned and assembled wood; the entire surface lacquered black and decorated in red lacquer
Height: 38 cm

Manno collection, Osaka

From the ancient times up until the Heian Period, sake was brewed mainly as an offering to the gods and served in Shinto shrines in unglazed earthenware vessels. From Kamakura period onwards, large size wooden vessels (heishi) became popular and banquets were held for ceremonies and festivals, where people took turns drinking sake from the same bottle. The shape of these vessels was inspired by the Chinese ceramic wine bottles from the Song dynasty and the surface was generally lacquered in red over a black ground, with a style now named after the Buddhist monastery where this technique has developed, Negoro-ji.
The construction of this heishi is consistent with that of Negoro ones: the wood core is composed of two parts and the spout is carved separately and inserted in the top. The shape is very elegant and the proportions well balanced, with a sinuous design that lighten the massive size.
When Negoro-ware reached its highest popularity in the late medieval period, other decorations were developed as variations of the main style. Among them, urushi-e (or e-Negoro) is a technique that allowed to adorn and enrich ritual items for special occasions or for a demanding patron as an alternative to the flat cinnabar-red of the Negoro-ware, at that time not yet worn by daily use. The technique of painting with lacquer was brought from China and then developed following the traditional Japanese aesthetic and essentially becoming one with Negoro lacquerware. Even if red Negoro items with black decorations are known, the ground is generally black (kuro-Negoro) and the design is either in red or silver lacquer.
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