This rare antique Kuwana Banko written 桑名萬古 of of aka-e or Japanese red ware is made as an Eboshi Kog. It is an Intangible Cultural Property of Kaga Zuisan or '加賀瑞山’, named so in 2014 so very recently. It was made by the potter Ninsei Zuiisan. The founder and artist of this piece was Ninsei Zuiisan.
A kogo is a box most often used for placing incense in at the tea ceremony. Kogo also make wonderful decorative items and small boxes for storing other small items in and as a collector's item are highly addictive. This is a very rare collector’s item and most likely a museum worthy piece with its deep and intertwined history. The Eboshi motif represents an old style of formal headgear for court nobles as discussed in the story below.
It is handmade and hand decorated in over glaze enamels. It does have a Banko style with old Kutani colors of red outlined in black and highlighted in gold. It was made in about 1870 per the seller who has a trusted history in Japanese antiques, or at the beginning of the Meiji period of 1868-1912. It comes with a tomobako just as old, which is the original box made especially for the item. The title of the kogo, the name of the potter and the kiln name are written. The Kaga mark means that the piece was produced in Kaga Han, the early and original home of Kutani. Following the Meiji Restoration and the abolition of the Han system in 1871, Kaga Province was renamed Kanazawa Prefecture. This in line with the age of the kogo and markings.
The kogo is inscribed on the bottom by the artist Ninsei Zuisan with the name of his kiln. So this kogo has a somewhat confusing but no unusual history with a lot of crossover. It is in very good condition with no cracks or chips. I am not too sure about the brass piece, it appears a little newer so may have replaced the original piece used to hold it together.
SIZE: Length 2.16 inches or 5.49 cm, Width 1.50 inches or 3.81 cm, Height 1.9 inches or 4.83 cm
Eboshi and the Tale of Genji 源氏物語
Eboshi is the formal headgear for court nobles. During the Heian period, this was used by the Imperial Court in Japan. When the Shinto priest of a shrine performed a ceremony, it was also used as a head covering. The Tale of Genji 源氏物語 is a classic work of Japanese literature written by the noblewoman and lady-in-waiting Murasaki Shikibu in the early years of the 11th century, around the peak of the Heian period. It is sometimes called the world's first novel, the first modern novel, the first psychological novel or the first novel still to be considered a classic. Notably, the novel also illustrates a unique depiction of the livelihoods of high courtiers during the Heian period. Between 1982 and 2001 there have been at least several translations of the novel, and at least five Japanese movies made about the Tale of Genji. I just purchased the most recent translation after doing all this research it so captured my interest.
History, Kaga which later became Kutani
Thanks to the help of a friend, we have now learned this reads Kaga Wantano Sei, which predated the use of the Kutani name, and just at the beginning of the Meiji period of 1868-1912. From Georges at the Kutani Ceramic Site regarding similar signatures: 'these signatures bear the Kaga no Kuni mark. It means that these ceramics were produced in Kaga Han or today's Kanazawa. Kaga Han and Daishoji Han merged in 1871 to give Ishikawa prefecture. However, at this period the name Kaga was widely used in Japan and also overseas to designate more generally the ceramic produced in the area. The name Kaga was later replaced by Kutani. According to Jan Nielsen at Gotheborg's they later became: Kutani Watano Sei - Watano Trading Company. Remember this piece is called Kaga, not Kutani. This company lasted for 3 generations and used different kanji characters for the ‘no’ in Watano depending on the generation. Watano was very famous during Meiji period 1868-1912 with export offices in the port towns of Kobe and Yokohama.
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