Asian silver and gold vase help please?

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shanti939
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Joined: Tue Jul 01, 2008 2:36 pm
Location: Florida

Asian silver and gold vase help please?

Postby shanti939 » Sat Aug 10, 2013 2:44 pm

I found this little about 6 inch tall vase, it tests sterling and the applied flower tests 14k gold, can anyone tell me what the marks mean, when and where it was made, by whom, what for, etc? Thanks so much.
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davidross
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Re: Asian silver and gold vase help please?

Postby davidross » Sun Aug 11, 2013 1:33 pm

The base has a jungin ("pure silver") mark as well as the mark of the maker, most likely phoneticized Araki.

It is a commemorative vase, meant primarily for display.

The inscription on the reverse of the body of the vase reads, "To commemorate the establishment of the house of Marquis Kuni." This refers to Kuni Kunihisa (1902-1935), the brother of the Empress Kojun (1903-2000, consort to the Showa Emperor [Hirohito] and mother of the reigning emperor, Akihito).

From the inscription, it seems safe to assume that the vase was one of several presented to friends, family members, and participants in a 25 October 1923 ceremony elevating Kunihisa to the title of marquis, which took place a few months before his sister married Crown Prince Hirohito (on 26 January 1924). At the time of his elevation, he was granted the name "Kuni" and the title "marquis." The gold seal on the obverse of the vase is the mon (family seal or crest) of the new Marquis Kuni.

Like his father before him, Marquis Kuni was a career officer in the Japanese Imperial Army. On 10 March 1935, he died in the bathroom of a massive cerebral hemorrhage.

Many thanks for sharing these images of one of the most historically provocative objects seen on the Forum in recent memory. It would be interesting to know its provenance and how it left Japan.

Regards
David R

shanti939
Posts: 5
Joined: Tue Jul 01, 2008 2:36 pm
Location: Florida

Re: Asian silver and gold vase help please?

Postby shanti939 » Mon Aug 12, 2013 9:14 pm

Thank you so much for all the wonderful information, it gives me a great place to start. I have looked up some more information about that period in time and Kunihisa's life. It seems he actually chose to be demoted to a commoner from royalty, he was initially a prince and, according to one website I accessed, in an act that was unprecedented in the history of the royal families of Japan, asked to be demoted. I wonder what that was all about. Apparently this all happened at a time of political upheaval, when Japan was about to move from the Taisho period to the Showa period, so maybe he was just the first of a line of royals who wanted to leave that life. I am really a rube at all this Japan information, and don't really understand what I just said means, but I'd like to know more. If you know of a website where I can find out more about his life, I would appreciate your supplying me with the url. Also, do you have any idea of what (admin edit see forum rules) and how many of them might have originally existed? I don't suppose you have any info on the maker mark, that is, of course, something I'd love to know. Do you know where I might find that out? Anyway, thanks so much for getting me started in the right direction, this is exciting!

Judith

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davidross
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Re: Asian silver and gold vase help please?

Postby davidross » Tue Aug 13, 2013 1:01 am

Hi Judith,

Forum rules explicitly forbid the discussion of value, but since you have asked, I believe that everything associated with Hirohito and his family, particularly items made before 1945, is tainted. There was a great outcry in all of the Allied nations when Hirohito was not tried as a war criminal, and for the relatives of the tens of millions of people who died in the Pacific Theatre of WWII (the majority of them civilians slaughtered pell-mell), anything mildly reminiscent of Japan's war of aggression in Asia (1931-1945, fought from beginning to end in the name of the Showa emperor) is repellent, carrying with it very grim associations, much like Nazi memorabilia. The three-part chrysanthemum seal on your vase, for instance, will only remind Allied personnel and older Asian people of the chrysanthemum seal that adorned every Japanese warship and bayonet.

While Kuni himself may have wished to renounce his status as a member of the nobility, he nevertheless remained an officer in the army that came to represent widespread terror throughout Asia. Even were it possible to conclude that his desire to become a commoner was intended to express disgust with and protest against the rising tide of Japanese militaristic nationalism, the matter of the vase's provenance remains an open (and somewhat troubling) question, one that any potential buyer would be naive not to raise, IMHO.

There is a biography of Kuni published in 1937, 侯爵久邇邦久伝 (in Japanese).

Glad to point you in the right direction,and good luck with your further investigation.

DR

shanti939
Posts: 5
Joined: Tue Jul 01, 2008 2:36 pm
Location: Florida

Re: Asian silver and gold vase help please?

Postby shanti939 » Tue Aug 13, 2013 12:53 pm

I didn't realize that discussion of value was forbidden here, sorry for that. Hmmm, I also did not realize that something like this might carry that kind of negative energy that you spoke of. Head smack again. Jeez. And you are right, the question of provenance has caused me some consternation as well, so for now I guess I will just set this little vase aside and wait until I speak to some people who might have been affected by that whole thing. The problem with these kinds of things is that it happened relatively recently, like Nazi items, as you said, so there is a much better chance of it bringing up bad feelings for some people. Well, I thank you again for your information, you gave me a lot to think about.
Judith

davidross
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Posts: 460
Joined: Tue Oct 04, 2011 1:58 am

Re: Asian silver and gold vase help please?

Postby davidross » Tue Aug 13, 2013 4:20 pm

Hi Judith,

And I thank you again for posting such a historically provocative object.

Regardless of the associations surrounding the vase, it is really a finely crafted piece.

By the way, I would leave it as is, and not polish it. Japanese tend to appreciate antique silver with natural, heavy patina.

Cheers

David


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