Japanese armour sells for £120,000 at Bonhams


2015-06-26 11:59:59


Japanese armour sells for 120,000 at Bonhams

The best examples of ivory carvings, early porcelain and armour all attracted strong bids in London

A stunning suit of museum-quality Japanese armour with a 16th century helmet sold for 120,000 at Bonhams New Bond Street, yesterday (May 11). The whole sale made a total of over 1.6m

The exceptional suit of armour dating from the Edo period (18th-19th century) wasaccompanied by a 16th century helmet. Itbelonged to an aristocratic Japanese family, the Hotta clan, with links to a Shogun, the historic senior nobility of imperial Japan.

Compared to European metal armour, this Japanese example is a feast of colours and textures; elaborately constructed from surprising materials which include black lacquer, doeskin, white fur, gilded paper, copper and iron.

The armour came from the collection of treasureswhich belonged to the Sakura Hotta family, which waslikelydispersed during and after the Meiji period (1868-1911).

A suit of armour dating from the Edo period (18-19th century)

The legendary aristocraticcollectiona range of classic Japanese objects: arms and armour, swords, scroll paintings, noh masks, screens and,particularly, ceramics for the tea ceremony.

Established in theMomoyama period (1573-1615), the Hotta clanprovided major military service to the warlords OdaNobunaga (1534-1582) and Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1536-1598).

Later, duringthe Edo period, HottaMasayoshi (1810-1864) acted as the Tokugawashogun'sroju, or advisor.After the Meiji restoration in1868, the headof the Sakura Hotta family was awarded the title ofHakushaku, or count, by the Meijiemperor.

Asuperbly decorated 17th century 'nabeshima' dish

The top lot in the sale was a cultural gem: a superbly decorated 17th century 'nabeshima' dish. Estimated to sell for 100,000 to 150,000, it finally realised 180,000.

The large dish, dated circa 1690-1760, is decorated with highly auspicious but mysterious images each representing "the eight Buddhistprecious emblems".

These includea ribboned "bag of plenty", a hat ofinvisibility, a flywhisk, a sword, a pair of books, castanets, a fan,a shoorgan, a pair of scrolls anda tama(or jewel) - all popular motifs inJapanese art.

A masterpiece of Japanese 17thcentury design, the dishis thought to date from the earliest period of porcelainmanufacture at the Okawachi kilns, patronised exclusively by theDaimyo family of the Nabeshima clan,their friends and retainers (although this rare and expensive porcelain wasalso produced as presentation gifts to the Tokugawa shogun).

Nabeshimawares were made only for the Tokugawa family and top officials in Japan, never for export, and were intended for presentation rather than for actual use. They were never sold on the openmarket in the Edo period, but were made in verylimited numbers, with specificpatterns, and in standardised shapes with three basic sizes.

"Today we saw some of the highest prices achieved in European auctons for a variety of the classic products of Japanese craftsmanship," said Suzannah Yip, Director of the Japanese Department.

"The best examples of ivory carvings, early porcelain, armour and lacquer all attracted strong bidding from Europe, the US and even Japan. We were delighted by this evidence of greater confidence among top buyers of Japanese art."

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