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  • Thumbnail for Gold Lacquer Inro with Ivory Netsuke - back view
    Gold Lacquer Inro with Ivory Netsuke - back view

    H: 6 cm W: 5 cm L: 1.8 cm D: of netsuke 4.2 cm Gold lacquer inro with overlay design in mother of pearl and shakudo Design: flying cranes. Ivory netsuke: turtle and toad; signed inside. Cover: Korin

  • Thumbnail for Womb Mandala
    Womb Mandala

    49 x 39 inches. The Womb Mandala (J.: Taizokai Mandara) is paired with the Diamond Mandala [J: Kongokai Mandara]. Together the two are known as the Mandalas of the Two Worlds [J: Ryokai Mandara], referring in Esoteric Buddhism of the Shingon Sect to the phenomenal [J: Taizokai] and the transcentdental [J: Kongokai] manifestations of the Cosmic, Universal Buddha[J: Dainichi Nyorai] that is encountered in Esoteric Buddhism. The Cosmic Buddha, Dainichi Nyorai, occupies the center of a red lotus blossom at the heart of the mandala; Buddhas of the four directions and four bodhisattvas associated with each one radiate from him on each of 8 petals. Wrathful manifestations [J: myoo] are below the lotus, and around it are arranged the hundreds of other figures.

  • Thumbnail for Figure of a monk
    Figure of a monk

    Nepalese brass artifact of a seated monk. The robes & begging bowl indicate a monk. His head is shaved in the front, but three long strands of hair cascade down his back. His robe displays Chinese designs only visible from the back. He holds a vajra in his right hand and appears to wear earrings. The left earring is inlaid with what appears to be red sealing wax while the one on the right bears traces of the same material. The base conceals ritual deposits beneath a hammered copper cap marked with a crossed vajra design. All of these metal images were originally made for ritual use. The containers for deposits hidden within the bases indicate a category of images once valued for their efficacy. It is instructive to consider what their value is in their present situation, surrounded as they are by a society that may appreciate their visible surfaces, and yet generally dismisses the idea that images such as these can exercise power when skillfully utilized.

  • Thumbnail for Gold Lacquer Inro with Ivory Netsuke - bottom view
    Gold Lacquer Inro with Ivory Netsuke - bottom view

    H: 6 cm W: 5 cm L: 1.8 cm D: of netsuke 4.2 cm. Gold lacquer inro with overlay design in mother of pearl and shakudo. Design: flying cranes. Ivory netsuke: turtle and toad; signed inside. Cover: Korin.

  • Thumbnail for Womb Mandala -  detail of center
    Womb Mandala - detail of center

    49 x 39 inches. The Womb Mandala (J.: Taizokai Mandara) is paired with the Diamond Mandala [J: Kongokai Mandara]. Together the two are known as the Mandalas of the Two Worlds [J: Ryokai Mandara], referring in Esoteric Buddhism of the Shingon Sect to the phenomenal [J: Taizokai] and the transcentdental [J: Kongokai] manifestations of the Cosmic, Universal Buddha[J: Dainichi Nyorai] that is encountered in Esoteric Buddhism. The Cosmic Buddha, Dainichi Nyorai, occupies the center of a red lotus blossom at the heart of the mandala; Buddhas of the four directions and four bodhisattvas associated with each one radiate from him on each of 8 petals. Wrathful manifestations [J: myoo] are below the lotus, and around it are arranged the hundreds of other figures.

  • Thumbnail for Portrait of Prince Shōtoku (Shōtoku Taishi) with His Younger Brother and Son
    Portrait of Prince Shōtoku (Shōtoku Taishi) with His Younger Brother and Son by Anonymous

    Hanging scroll; ink, gold, and colors on silk. 70" x 26 1/2". Stored in paulownia wood (kiri) box. Prince Shōtoku (Shōtoku Taishi or Imperial Prince of Holy Virtue; 574-622) is regarded by later admirers as Japan's first great imperial statesman, the founding father of Buddhism in Japan, and the human incarnation of assorted Buddhist deities and distinguished monks. Belief in the interrelated nature of these accomplishments assured his leap to the status of mythic hero. This painting is a later version of a very famous, iconic portrait of Prince Shōtoku and his brother and son wearing Chinese-style court robes, dating to the late 7th or early 8th century and owned by the Imperial Household Agency. Paintings such as this and the cult with which they are associated came about in part because of the successful promotion of Prince Shōtoku by those with a vested interest in perpetuating the lineage of the imperial family by portraying its members as national heroes. Ironically, although power struggles within the imperial family shortly after Prince Shōtoku's death wrested authority away from his direct heirs, the usurpers could not undo the mythologizing of the Prince that elevated him to divine status.

  • Thumbnail for Korean ceramics:  "Moon" Jar
    Korean ceramics: "Moon" Jar by unknown

    This vessel, titled "Moon" Jar , is from 17th century Korea. It is porcelain, glazed with a white glaze and is perhaps 16 or 18 inches in height. -- Gift of an anonymous donor and Louise Lutz Estate; Russell Tyson Endowment, 2001.413 -- Technical notes and a subjective response to the piece, from a potter: Perhaps the most striking quality of this piece is its remarkable feeling of volume, almost of swelling, as if the space on the interior of the piece is expanding and pushing out the form of the piece. This creates both a sense of the interior space of the piece and a feeling of tautness on the surface of the form, as if it is being pulled tight, stretched like the skin of a ripe fruit. This is a powerful expression of form and space, at the same time that the piece possesses a strong quality of dignity and reserve, due perhaps to the near symmetry of the form, top to bottom, the lack of deliberate decoration on the surface, and the quiet of the white semi-matte glaze surface. There is, however, great subtlety in the glaze surface, when we look closely at the piece, with a rich pattern of fine crackling in the glaze surface, and some remarkable and subtle color variations across the surface. A very noticeable, yet quiet glaze color variation is found in the patches of a very pale pinkish color visible in several places, such as on the left in this image, just above the middle of the piece, the belly of the piece. These probably were caused by an impurity in the clay body volatilizing, burning out, during the firing of the form, causing a chemical reaction in the glaze, proper, imparting the slightest blush of color to the basically white glaze. A similar type of effect is seen, e.g., in the famous halo effect on pieces from the Asahi kiln, Uji, Japan. -- Technically, it would be extremely difficult to throw a porcelain vessel of this size and extention on the potters' wheel in one piece. If you look very carefully at the contour of the curve of the form, you will note that, right at the belly, the point of maximum extension of the form, the curve appears to straighten out ever so slightly. Also, right at the middle of the form, particularly on the right half of the piece, there appears to be a very, very slight line or seam, a slightest break in the smooth surface of the over-all piece. These two slight variations in the form suggest (to this writer) that perhaps the form was accomplished by taking two forms, bowl -like forms, that had been thrown separately, and joining them rim to rim, one upside down on top of the other one, to create this total form. (Alternately, the piece may have been created using the technique known as "coil and throw," a technique widely used in East Asian ceramics, as in the storage jar from Shigaraki, Japan, also in this exhibition. The bottom section of a piece would be thrown, then allowed to dry out and stiffen somewhat. After being recentered on the potters' wheel, a thick coil of soft clay would be added to the rim of the bottom section and the top portion of the form would be pulled up out of that thick coil of clay.) We might notice also that the foot of the piece and the rim of the piece are nearly identical in form and size, adding to the impression of two bowl forms joined rim to rim. The foot and rim of the total form do something else that is worth noting- because they both are straight cylindrical forms and are visually the same size, they may suggest visually a cylindrical form that runs straight through the entire form, giving it a strong sense of structure that both contains and supports the powerful swelling of the contour of the form.

  • Thumbnail for Shuji version of the Womb  Mandala
    Shuji version of the Womb Mandala

    16.25 x 14.25 inches. The Womb Mandala (J.: Taizokai Mandara) is the static principle of the cosmos; the matrix of all things, i.e., the material world of physical phenomena, with Dainichi Nyorai, the Cosmic Universal Buddha in the Shingon sect of Esoteric Buddhism occupying the center. In the shuji version of this mandara, Sanskrit characters substitute for the images of Buddhas and other Buddhist deities normally seen on the mandara form. As a pair, this painting is coupled with the Diamond World Mandala [J: Kongokai Mandara] and are the "seed character" (shuji) versions of the Ryokai Mandara, or Mandalas of the Two Worlds. These pairs of mandara are devotional aids in the Shingon sect of Esoteric Buddhism in Japan, emphasizing the phenomenal and the transcendant sides of the Cosmic, Universal Buddha Dainichi Nyorai. The pair of mandalas would be hung in a Shingon temple to provide focal points for contemplation and ritual religious practice, and could also have been used in initiation ceremonies for new initiates into the disciplines of Shingon. The small scale of this shuji pair suggests private devotional usage. These are later examples of a significant type, and the two should always be displayed together, as they would have been hung together in the temple.

  • Thumbnail for Womb Mandala -  detail of center figures
    Womb Mandala - detail of center figures

    49 x 39 inches. The Womb Mandala (J.: Taizokai Mandara) is paired with the Diamond Mandala [J: Kongokai Mandara]. Together the two are known as the Mandalas of the Two Worlds [J: Ryokai Mandara], referring in Esoteric Buddhism of the Shingon Sect to the phenomenal [J: Taizokai] and the transcentdental [J: Kongokai] manifestations of the Cosmic, Universal Buddha[J: Dainichi Nyorai] that is encountered in Esoteric Buddhism. The Cosmic Buddha, Dainichi Nyorai, occupies the center of a red lotus blossom at the heart of the mandala; Buddhas of the four directions and four bodhisattvas associated with each one radiate from him on each of 8 petals. Wrathful manifestations [J: myoo] are below the lotus, and around it are arranged the hundreds of other figures.

  • Thumbnail for Tanegashima Rifle case
    Tanegashima Rifle case

    Flint and safety pin lacking, but otherwise in excellent condition. So, too, is the lacquered, fitted case, with its identifying mon, or crest of the daimyo clan for whom it was made. The firearm refers to one of the most interesting periods of Japanese history, and can be dated to a fairly precise time period, because such weapons did not exist in Japan before they were introduced by the Portuguese in 1543. The Portuguese had been blown off course in a storm and made landfall at Tanegashima, a small island off the coast of Kyushu (hence the name "Tanegashima" Rifle). This weapon is much more rare than a samurai sword because the time when it was in use was of such short duration. Use of such guns was banned early in the Edo period. This rifle is heavy! Metal fittings with lion on butt end. On lower surface of the rifle, metal fittings, as in sword furniture, with cloud pattern near the end (cf. smoke from firing). Halfway down is a flaming jewel. Back near the trigger, a 3-clawed dragon form in the clouds. Behind the dragon is a character on a round metal insert; then the trigger; on the bottom of the butt, another character. On the sides of the shoulder piece is further decoration (left side, cherry blossoms; right side, kara-shishi [Chinese lion-dog), and on upper surface is peony, often associated with the lion-dog in Japanese decorative arts. Above the trigger is a samurai helmet; on the metal assembly is another character, prob. the maker's symbol. Lacquered case is shaped to fit the rifle, and bears the mon of a five-petaled flower with circular petals, possibly a plum, within a circle.

  • Thumbnail for Pillow (used by ladies) (side view)
    Pillow (used by ladies) (side view)

    Cushion resting on a wooden base. This type of pillow can be seen in Japanese prints and paintings of the Edo era (1603-1868 AD), so it is identified as “Japanese,†which differed from Chinese pillows largely made of ceramics. It was used by ladies who rested on the back of their neck to avoid messing up their elaborate hairdos. The drawer at the bottom of the wooden base may have contained personal belongings, including jewelry at some point. Its condition is fine, but the colors of the cushion have faded (the design and pattern on the cushion remain visible).

  • Thumbnail for Chinese Bronze Vase (view 1)
    Chinese Bronze Vase (view 1)

    7 1/4 " h. Pyriform body, elongated neck with a long dragon entwined terminating with a bulbous mouth surmounted by an upright cylindrical lip, all supported by a tall splayed foot ring, traces of gilding.

  • Thumbnail for Gold Lacquer Inro with Ivory Netsuke - front view
    Gold Lacquer Inro with Ivory Netsuke - front view

    H: 6 cm W: 5 cm L: 1.8 cm D: of netsuke 4.2 cm. Gold lacquer inro with overlay design in mother of pearl and shakudo. Design: flying cranes. Ivory netsuke: turtle and toad; signed inside. Cover: Korin

  • Thumbnail for Shuji version of the Diamond  Mandala
    Shuji version of the Diamond Mandala

    16.25 x 14.25 inches. In Japanese Esoteric Buddhism, the Diamond World Mandala (J.: Kongkokai Mandara) is the active principle of the cosmos, the noumenal, or transcendent, spiritual expressio of the wisdom of Dainichi Nyorai, the Cosmic Universal Buddha in the Shingon sect of Esoteric Buddhism. Over 1300 figures occupy 9 sections, with Dainich Nyorai in the center of the top row. The "kongo" [Sanskrit - vajra] actually means 'thunderbolt', the most comonly seen ritual implement of Shingon practice. In the shuji version of the mandara, seen here, Sanskrit characters called "seed-characters" (shuji) are substituted for the anthropomorphic forms of deities found on the traditional form. It should not necessarily be assumed that those who used a shuji mandara would be able to read the characters. The small scale suggests private usage, rather than hanging in a public place in a temple. Silk brocade mount is later; wood frame.

  • Thumbnail for Tara
    Tara by Unknown

    26 inches high by 10.8 inches wide. Image of the Buddhist goddess Tara seated on a double lotus; traces of polychrome paint & furnished w/ elaborate earrings, necklace & bracelet of repousee copper; arrested termite damage most notably on hands and base; previous catalog number "484" on bottom of base.

  • Thumbnail for East Asian Ceramics:  Then and Now.  03,  Shino-ware Ewer
    East Asian Ceramics: Then and Now. 03, Shino-ware Ewer by unknown

    Shino-ware was associated with kilns of the Mino district, near Tajimi in Gifu prefecture, central Honshu, north of Nagoya and Seto. Shino-ware is characterized by its glaze, which is known simply as Shino. It is usually a thick white glaze with a soft lustrous surface, neither matte nor glossy, and a surprising sense of tactile softness to the touch. Often, on the rim or other ridges of a form, the color will break to a warm orangish color, hinting at a sense of the clay body under the glaze (or it may suggest other images, as with the rim of Mrs. Ota's tea bowl in the Kawabata novel, Thousand Cranes). It is a subtle and rich glaze, one much favored by masters of tea. Often, but not always, designs were painted on the surface of pieces before they were glazed. These patterns, painted with an iron slip or pigment, are partially obscured and softened by the glaze over them, creating both a quiet subtlety of design and a sense of depth to the glazed surface. -- An aside about this particular piece is the difference in color of the lid of the ewer and the body of the ewer, proper, suggesting that perhaps the pieces were fired apart from one another and that, even if they were immediately side by side in the kiln, the atmosphere in the kiln (the amount of smokiness or clarity of flame) was slightly different around each of the two pieces. A problem that will be recognized by all potters, today, just as then. -- Russell Tyson Purchase Fund Income, 1966.332

  • Thumbnail for Pillow (used by ladies)
    Pillow (used by ladies)

    Cushion resting on a wooden base. This type of pillow can be seen in Japanese prints and paintings of the Edo era (1603-1868 AD), so it is identified as “Japanese,†which differed from Chinese pillows largely made of ceramics. It was used by ladies who rested on the back of their neck to avoid messing up their elaborate hairdos. The drawer at the bottom of the wooden base may have contained personal belongings, including jewelry at some point. Its condition is fine, but the colors of the cushion have faded (the design and pattern on the cushion remain visible).

  • Thumbnail for Chinese Bronze Vase (view 2)
    Chinese Bronze Vase (view 2)

    7 1/4 " h. Pyriform body, elongated neck with a long draong entwined terminating with a bulbous mouth surmounted by an upright cylindrical lip, all supported by a tall splayed foot ring, traces of gilding.

  • Thumbnail for Gold Lacquer Inro with Ivory Netsuke
    Gold Lacquer Inro with Ivory Netsuke

    H: 6 cm W: 5 cm L: 1.8 cm D: of netsuke 4.2 cm. Gold lacquer inro with overlay design in mother of pearl and shakudo. Flying crane design. Ivory netsuke: turtle and toad; signed inside. Cover: Korin

  • Thumbnail for Shuji version of the Diamond Mandala
    Shuji version of the Diamond Mandala

    16.25 x 14.25 inches. The Womb Mandala (J.: Taizokai Mandara) is the static principle of the cosmos; the matrix of all things, i.e., the material world of physical phenomena, with Dainichi Nyorai, the Cosmic Universal Buddha in the Shingon sect of Esoteric Buddhism occupying the center. In the shuji version of this mandara, Sanskrit characters substitute for the images of Buddhas and other Buddhist deities normally seen on the mandara form. As a pair, this painting is coupled with the Diamond World Mandala [J: Kongokai Mandara] and are the "seed character" (shuji) versions of the Ryokai Mandara, or Mandalas of the Two Worlds. These pairs of mandara are devotional aids in the Shingon sect of Esoteric Buddhism in Japan, emphasizing the phenomenal and the transcendant sides of the Cosmic, Universal Buddha Dainichi Nyorai. The pair of mandalas would be hung in a Shingon temple to provide focal points for contemplation and ritual religious practice, and could also have been used in initiation ceremonies for new initiates into the disciplines of Shingon. The small scale of this shuji pair suggests private devotional usage. These are later examples of a significant type, and the two should always be displayed together, as they would have been hung together in the temple. Silk brocade mount is later; wood frame.