This fine old Imari porcelain tokkuri bottle, or bud vase is decorated with the very popular Japanese version of the Phoenix or Hō-ō 鳳凰 Bird. Tokkuri is the Japanese name for the sake bottle. This was a purchase from Japan and dated by the seller to be about 50 years old, dating to the post-mid-century late Showa period of 1926-1989.
This large 'Kaku-bin' or square tokkuri reminds me of a much older piece in the way it is made and its look. It is a very nice collector's item and decorative piece, for those that choose not to venture to use it. It is made very finely just like in the old days, of fine white 'jiki' or porcelain. It is hand decorated in thick, rich enamels with great detail in the auspiciousness motif of the Phoenix or Hō-ō 鳳凰 bird living in it's 'Kiri' or the paulownia tree, which is represented by the motif around the bottom. Kiri is a popular wood in Japan, it is light and does not warp and is used for making musical instruments for one and nice bako or boxes for the items.
The Phoenix hangs down with its wings spread open, most often in the act of attacking ‘naga’ with its strong claws. ‘Nage’ means all the serpentines, snakes, and dragons. Its long tail hangs down taking up the entire top around the bottle in lovely traditional Imari colors plus some, highlighted just right in gold. The bottle is decorated mostly like in the old days, with the original Chinese background of paulownia and bamboo which was gradually replaced by combinations of peonies, cherry blossoms, chrysanthemums, and seasonal Japanese wildflowers. -1- A combination of familiar Japanese motif surrounds the neck and shoulders, completing this very fine piece.
According to legend -mostly from China, the Hō-ō appears very rarely, and only to mark the beginning of a new era, the birth of a virtuous ruler, for example. In other traditions, the Hō-ō appears only in peaceful and prosperous times -nesting, it is said, in paulownia trees, and hides when there is trouble. As the herald of a new age, the Hō-ō descends from heaven to earth to do good deeds, and then it returns to its celestial abode to await a new era. It is both a symbol of peace when the bird appears and a symbol of disharmony when the bird disappears. -2-
This vintage Imari or Arita-yaki piece is in most excellent condition with no cracks, chips or visible surface wear. We will always pack it very safely for you, please see our store reviews.
Size: Height 9.2 inches or 23.5 cm, Width 4.9 inches square or 12.5 cm. Weight 700 grams or 1.87 lbs.
The Phoenix Hō-ō 鳳凰 , Feng Huang 鳳凰
Excerpted directly from the Onmark website, in Japan, as earlier in China, the mythical Phoenix was adopted as a symbol of the imperial household, particularly the Empress. This mythical bird represents fire, the sun, justice, obedience, fidelity, and the southern star constellations. In China, early artifacts show the Phoenix -female- as intimately associated with the Dragon -male- -- the two are portrayed either as mortal enemies or as blissful lovers. It is called 'Feng Huang 鳳凰' in Chinese. When shown together, the two symbolize both conflict and wedded bliss, and are a common design motif even today in many parts of Asia.
The Feng Huang was believed to control the five tones of traditional Chinese music and to represent the Confucian virtues of loyalty, honesty, decorum and justice. Its image first appears on Shang artifacts of China’s Western Zhou Period -11th century BC to 771 BC-. It became a popular decorative motif in the Nara period-late 7-8 bc, and was used on a wide variety of items including textiles, mirrors, chests, and lacquerware. -3- See more at the Onmark website.
-1,2,3- Onmark Productions Buddhist Sanctuary Website on the Phoenix
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