Phoenix vase

The Kawasakis have been piling up metal junk for recycling – old siding, rusty tins, bent wire fencing – and on Tuesday they came over to load it into the k-truck and take it away.

Amongst the odds and ends towards the bottom of the pile was a vase. Mr. Kawasaki thumped it to listen to its sound, decided it was pottery, not metal after all and let me take it because I might have made an “Ooooh” sound when he lifted it up.

It’s the exact balance between ugly, weird, and beautiful that I love.

And it’s metal. Possibly bronze, or maybe brass. I’m not sure how to tell the difference, but there are some little scratches and nicks where metal shines through. Japan has a long tradition of bronze work, so I am going with bronze.

I took the vase home and cleaned it up, including removing the patina. I wanted to discover its original form, but now that I know, I will let the patina grow back.

The whole thing is enameled in a mix of blue, black, yellow, and orange. It was very likely dipped to coat it based on the fineness of the pattern on the bottom compared to the larger splashes higher up on the neck and ears.

Based on some Google searches, it seems that this is a 1950s era lost wax casting in a retro Chinese style that was popular at the time. It might have had rings in the handles. It’s not especially valuable, and I am sure there are many more to be found in attics and junk piles around Japan.

I am glad I have this one.

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Mediatinker, Kristen McQuillin, is an American-born resident of Japan since 1998. This blog chronicles her life, projects, thoughts, and small adventures.