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  • Thumbnail for Book of prints - example image of portrait of an old man
    Book of prints - example image of portrait of an old man

    Woodblock print mounted on flecked paper. Image shows an elderly bearded gentleman gazing out over the water towards Mt. Fuji.

  • Thumbnail for Six Figures from Hokusai manga
    Six Figures from Hokusai manga by Katsushika HOKUSAI (1760-1849)

    Front label misspells the name, lists it as "Hokussai"; should be Hokusai. Registrar's printout also lists the artist's last name as Hokusai, first name as Katsushika; bear in mind that Japanese reverses the order we are used to in the West. So, Katsushika is the surname/family name; Hokusai, the name by which he is best known, is the personal name. On the back, says it was done 1820-30. This print is a page from Hokusai's Manga, a printed set of his sketchbooks, containing various figural, landscape, and bird-and-flower compositions, with a limited color palette involving the use of 3 blocks: the key block, which prints the black lines; a block inked for the flesh tones; and a block inked with light blue for the clothing. This particular page of the Manga shows male figures in various physical poses: the top two are bending/stretching, w. arms wrapped around legs, and hands clutching ankles. The middle two figures are seated and clutching each other's shoulders. The lower two are seated, and are engaged in leg wrestling.

  • Thumbnail for Underglaze bowl
    Underglaze bowl

    From Sawankhalok, Thailand. Stoneware, H: 3" x Dia. 7 5/8". Underglaze-iron painting on bowls from Sawankhalok and Sukhothai in Thailand, and in the northern kilns of Vietnam, clearly derives from Chinese Guangdong ceramics, particularly those produced in the kilns of Xicun. A popular motif on both the Sukhothai and the Sawankhalok bowls and plates was a solar whorl or wheel, possibly an allusion to that symbol as it is used in Buddhism, to denote the law or teachings of the Buddha. This solar whorl is visible on the interior base of this bowl. The leaves that are painted on the cavetto of the bowl have been added recently. Thus, although the bowl dates to the period of export, it was tarted up in recent times to increase its value. This is not an uncommon practice for resale in Southeast Asia. Aside from the varnished surface of the piece, it was also possible to ascertain the modern addition by applying a small amount of acetone with a q-tip; the painting lifts off easily. The black impurities typical of Sawankhalok clay are visible on the base of this bowl, the white visible on the base is slip, rather than glaze that was painted on prior to firing. Southeast Asian ceramics are never glazed on the bottom, as opposed to Chinese ceramics, which often have a glazed base.

  • Thumbnail for Stoneware Dish (front)
    Stoneware Dish (front)

    From Sankampaeng, Thailand. Stoneware, H: 2 1/8" x Dia. 9". While the export ceramics of the Sawankhalok and Sukhothai kilns have been known in the West since the nineteenth century (though they were ascribed to Chinese kilns at that time), the smaller, northern kiln sites have only been explored beginning in the second half of the twentieth century, the first, Kalong, having been discovered in 1933. Sankampaeng is the second most extensive of the northern kiln sites (with eighty-three kilns). The wares are generally monochrome wares or underglaze iron. This kiln site was probably producing at the same time as Sukhothai and Sawankhalok. This wheat-colored vessel is finely potted, with incised lines as the only decoration. The mouthrim is unglazed, as the plates were stacked rim-to-rim in the kiln. The clay is a pinkish-buff color.

  • Thumbnail for Wheel-thrown dark brown teabowl with brocade mat
    Wheel-thrown dark brown teabowl with brocade mat

    This teabowl, with its brocade mat and dark brown glaze, is said to have been one that was presented to soldiers upon their safe return in WWII. The teabowl has a right angle carved into the bottom of the foot; along the base of the bowl are Japanese characters; the mat is stripped aqua, mustard, forest green, orange, lavender and gray under a golden floral design with an animal all over.

  • Thumbnail for Untitled landscape - Chinese
    Untitled landscape - Chinese by Wang Chi Chien (1907 - 2002)

    Ink and color on paper; dated 1970; 22 1/4in. x 11 1/2in. (56.2cm. x 29cm.) Artist: Wang Chi Chien (1907 - 2002). This untitled landscape is executed in using a folded paper technique which Wang typically utilized in his later paintings. His later work bridged his evolving westernized style with the traditional brush painting of his early years. This trend is characteristic of many Chinese painters who worked much of their lives outside of China.

  • Thumbnail for Patta - Jain cosmological image
    Patta - Jain cosmological image

    From Gujarat/Rajastan; ink and colors on cloth; 63 1/2in. x 64 1/8in. (152.2cm. x 163.5cm.) This elaborate and easily readable painted image illustrates the cosmological beliefs of the Jain religion. Essentially the patta is a representation of the creation of the mortal realm. Brightly colored concentric circles superimposed upon meandering streams, figures and texts create a vivid picture of the world as visualized by Jain philosophers in their complex oral and written discourses.

  • Thumbnail for Charger - underside
    Charger - underside

    From Kalong, Thailand, stoneware, Dia: 13". Kalong is the largest of the northern Thai kiln sites and was first reported in the 1930s. At least 100 kilns spread over a 15 km area have been discovered in the region of Wieng Papao, Chiangrai province. They are the most dramatic of the northern wares, created in underglaze brown in bold patterns. The clay is pale in color, and the vessels thinly potted with well-carved footrings. Although the decoration on this charger is in keeping with that generally seen on Kalong wares, it is larger than usual and the walls of the plate curve more than one would expect. Thus, one can conclude it is probably of modern manufacture, but, still illustrative of ancient decoration.

  • Thumbnail for Virhani
    Virhani

    From Mewar (Rajastan); ink and opaque color on paper; 8 3/4in. x 71/2in. (21.8cm. x 19.8cm.) This lyrical composition is a representation of the unhappy love of the heroine, Radha, suffering the absence of her lover. Painted in the conservative Indian style, this image shows little artistic awareness and contact with the Mughal School of painting.

  • Thumbnail for Mountain Scene - full view
    Mountain Scene - full view

    Hanging scroll; ink on paper. Dimensions: 56 x 16 1/4 in. Condition of this work is excellent.

  • Thumbnail for Tanegashima Rifle - detail of underside
    Tanegashima Rifle - detail of underside

    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 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 Jarlet - bottom view
    Jarlet - bottom view

    From Sawankhalok. Stoneware, 1998.5.9, height 4" x dia.2". By the time the Sawankhalok district kilns stopped production, at least 500 kilns had been built into the banks of the Menam Yom (river), at Tukatha, Ban Pa Yang, and Ban Koh Noi all sited across the river from the ancient capital of Si Satchanalai. Potters working at Ban Koh Noi produced glazed ceramics for local use (called Mon ware by the local peoples) by the thirteenth or fourteenth century and exported goods from all of the sites by the end of the fourteenth century. Numerous jarlets of this type were produced at the various kilns at Si Satchanalai in central Thailand. The glaze is a brown iron glaze and the body typical of Si Satchanalai wares, a buff color with dark impurities. Jarlets of this type were also produced by the Chinese, but the Thai jarlets generally are more finely finished with a carefully carved-recessed base. Excavations of burials in the Philippines revealed a ceremonial placement of imported vessels around the body Thai jarlets were placed around the head, Chinese plates were inverted over the pubic area, saucers were placed beneath the hands, and local wares were arranged away from the body. What this arrangement meant will never be known, but it does suggest that a specific symbolic significance was assigned to the various vessels.

  • Thumbnail for Bishamon-ten (Tamon-ten), Guardian King of the North - back view
    Bishamon-ten (Tamon-ten), Guardian King of the North - back view

    23" high. Tamon-ten (Skt.: Vaishravana; Ch.: Duowen) is the alternate name for the Guardian King who later became known as Bishamon-ten. He is also one of the Shitenno, the one associated with the Northern direction, traditionally held to be the most dangerous direction from which evil spirits emanate -- so dangerous that cities in China and Japan, set up according to feng shui principles -- situate a Buddhist temple in that Northeast corner, to protect the city from those evil spirits. Tamon-ten holds a halberd in one hand (missing in this example), and a reliquary/stupa in the other hand, here resembling a flaming jewel). Paint has darkened, flaked off; no gilding visible.

  • Thumbnail for Sumo Wrestler Defeating a Westerner
    Sumo Wrestler Defeating a Westerner by Ipposai YOSHIFUJI (1828-87)

    Image of Sumo wrestler successfully tossing a westerner while man and woman looking on. Japanese characters are written on the top of the print and the lower right side. One of a series of prints that appeared during the time between the arrival of Commodore Matthew Perry in 1853, and the actual beginning of the Meiji Era (1868-1912).

  • Thumbnail for Handscroll: Treatise on Samurai Armor - section eight
    Handscroll: Treatise on Samurai Armor - section eight

    Watercolor on paper with gold border on top and bottom of scroll, depicting drawing of parts of samurai's armor including helmet.

  • Thumbnail for Handscroll: Treatise on Samurai Armor - section three
    Handscroll: Treatise on Samurai Armor - section three

    Watercolor on paper with gold border on top and bottom of scroll, depicting drawing of parts of samurai's armor including helmet.

  • Thumbnail for Mountain Scene - detail of seal impression
    Mountain Scene - detail of seal impression

    Hanging scroll; ink on paper. Dimensions: 56 x 16 1/4 in. Condition of this work is excellent.

  • Thumbnail for Dish
    Dish

    From Sankampaeng, Thailand. Stoneware, Dia: 9". The pale, wheat-colored glaze of this shallow dish is slightly abraded. The vessel is finely thrown, with a broad, carved foot and a body of pale clay.

  • Thumbnail for Maiden and Ox
    Maiden and Ox by Mayumi Oda (b. 1941)

    Print 19 of 33, woodcut on paper, 18 x 12 inches. Mayumi Oda is a Tokyo-born Japanese-American woman print-maker, who is a graduate of Tokyo University of Fine Arts and the Pratt Graphic Center, NY and who now lives on a farm in Kealakekua, Hawaii. Oda is as well known as an activist for environmental and women's causes as an artist. She is one of the founders of Plutonium Free Future, which seeks safe energy, and she works with the World Court Project that hopes to make nuclear weapons illegal. She is the author of "I Opened the Gate, Laughing: An Inner Journey and has written on her love of farming in "Sun, Seeds and Soil" in Resurgence 229, 2005. She has also translated the writings of Hiratsuka Raicho (1887-1971), a Japanese feminist important in the development of the Creative Print Movement. Oda titled this print Maiden and Ox, but the image is clearly based on the theme of the Ten (or Six) Zen Oxen or Bulls, there being no distinction in Japanese between the male and female animal or between oxen and cattle. The theme of the Ten Zen Bulls was often illustrated as a series of circular pictures. The theme compares the process of reaching enlightenment in Zen Buddhism to taming a bull. Pictures of the Ten Zen Bulls generally begin by showing a bull-herd wandering aimlessly until he spies out the animal. He chases it, ropes it, and struggles with it until the animal meekly follows him. The bull-herd can now ride the bull with such confidence that he is able to play his flute while doing so. Next, the bull-herd is shown praying. A blank circle follows, then a scene in nature, and finally, an image of the bull-herd standing next to some great Buddhist figure, such as Hotei. The meaning of the parable of the Ten Zen Bulls may come from the fact that oxen and cattle, as the largest animals known in Japan, are symbols of flesh. Interpreted this way, the point of the parable would be that the flesh (bull) must first be perceived and then tamed, in order to enter a religious path. Not until the flesh (bull) follows the mind (bull-herd), and indeed, not until flesh and mind are completely comfortable with each other (the bull-herd riding the bull and playing his flute) is it possible to reach enlightenment, or the understanding of nothingness (the blank scene). Finally, the good Buddhist, having achieved salvation, returns to the world (the scene in nature) to help others as the great saints did. Oda transformed the usually male ox-herd of the Ten Zen Bulls into one of her goddesses, but otherwise reproduces the figure's relaxed pose, seated on the bull and playing his flute. The goddess is drawn in outline, with her white skin the color of the unprinted paper. Black lines render the goddess' arms, neck, eyes, and other anatomical details. The bull, by contrast, is composed of large black masses that have been shaped carefully to leave long open strips of unprinted white paper. The white strips serve as the contours of the horns, folds in the neck, and upper parts of the right fore and back legs. Oda's Maiden and Ox, consequently, is not just an image commenting upon gender issues in Buddhism or the need for the spiritually enlightened to work in the world -- Oda has said that she began making her goddess series in response to the Vietnam War. Maiden and Ox is also a statement on the nature of line in art and its relationship to the planes that it creates.

  • Thumbnail for Fan painting - Lady Reclining on a bench in a garden
    Fan painting - Lady Reclining on a bench in a garden by Xiaoyu, or the Lady Feng [?]

    Paintings of both men and women in gardens. A part of the iconography of the most images of women in the gardens is the wall, signifying that she was in a space enclosed. The identification of this woman is uncertain. Xiaoyu is taken from a seal, and the second character of the name (after Feng) is unclear, although even if it were readable there seems to be no likely woman artist with a first character Feng in her name in the dictionary. She does say that she did the work in Shanghai, and since women traveled little, this is likely where she lived. There are many paintings of both men and women in gardens. It is interesting that a part of the iconography of most images of women in gardens is the wall, signifying that she was in a space enclosed, a space that belonged to someone else, and by extension she was property within that space. Perhaps only in dreams could one escape. This work is competent, but not too impressive in either its brushwork or composition.

  • Thumbnail for Limepot - bottom view
    Limepot - bottom view

    Stoneware, H: 5 1/2" x Dia: 4". Glazed wares (wood-ash glazed) were first produced in Southeast Asia in Vietnam during the first century; the technique was undoubtedly a legacy of the Chinese, who ruled Vietnam from 111 BCE to 979 CE. Vietnamese ceramics relate to Chinese ceramics in terms of glazes, shapes, but differences in the clay body (Vietnamese wares have a white clay body), decoration, and the fact the Vietnamese produced only stoneware, set them apart. This limepot is an example of a unique shape that is not found in Chinese wares, but instead points to a distinctly Southeast Asian usage. Certain cultural traits set the region of Southeast Asia apart from Chinese or Indian cultures. These traits include betel chewing, cockfighting, houses on stilts, piston bellows, musical pattern dominated by gongs, similar patterns of body decoration, the concept of spirit or soul stuff, and the prominence of women in descent, ritual matters, market and agriculture. Betel chewing involves creating a quid by wrapping slaked lime and cut areca nuts in a betel leaf; the effect is that of a mild aphrodisiac. Limepots of this type were created in all sizes and in a variety of glazes. As in this example, the handle is interpreted to look like a vine that ends in leaves, often of the areca plant.

  • Thumbnail for Japanese Woman in Western Dress, Accompanied by a Servant Japanese Garb
    Japanese Woman in Western Dress, Accompanied by a Servant Japanese Garb by Ipposai YOSHITORA (?) (fl. c. 1850-80)

    Presents the contrast between native traditional female garb (worn by the servant girl), and the new European style clothing for women. The figure in Western garb here, however, still holds a Chinese fan shape decorated with a wave pattern. Yoshitora was a pupil of leading late Edo period printmaker Utagawa KUNIYOSHI (1797-1861) was a member of the Yokohama School, but he did not reside there, and probably based his designs on the figures he could have seen in Western engravings. Publisher's seal, with stylized lotus over waves, identifies the publisher as Sakai Kawaguchi.

  • Thumbnail for Bishamon-ten (Tamon-ten), Guardian King of the North
    Bishamon-ten (Tamon-ten), Guardian King of the North

    23" high made of carved wood. Tamon-ten (Skt.: Vaishravana; Ch.: Duowen) is the alternate name for the Guardian King who later became known as Bishamon-ten. He is also one of the Shitenno, the one associated with the Northern direction, traditionally held to be the most dangerous direction from which evil spirits emanate -- so dangerous that cities in China and Japan, set up according to feng shui principles -- situate a Buddhist temple in that Northeast corner, to protect the city from those evil spirits. Tamon-ten holds a halberd in one hand (missing in this example), and a reliquary/stupa in the other hand, here resembling a flaming jewel). Paint has darkened, flaked off; no gilding visible.

  • Thumbnail for KENDI, Sawankhalok style
    KENDI, Sawankhalok style

    H: 6 5/8" x Dia: 8". Buddhist and Hindu rituals in Southeast Asia required the lustration of images, and the kendi, one of the larger vessels used, is depicted in sculptural reliefs as early as the ninth century. This modern kendi is constructed in the typical mammiform shape of the Southeast Asian kendi. Although this piece is modern, it illustrates both an important type of vessel with its links to both Buddhist and Hindu ritual and decorative techniques used in the production of Thai ceramics. The potter has incised the vessel in an overall, unidentifiable floral motif, then used an iron brown glaze to fill the design and a wood-ash white glaze for the background. The incised lines serve to separate the two glazes, so that they don't run into each other. In this particular instance, those lines, freshly cut and without any evidence of aging, indicate the vessel is modern.