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Antique Japanese cloisonné brooch with design of traditional instruments

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AnythingObsc…'s loves1262 of 7679Antique anvil trenton or trexton1960s Red & Clear Glass Ashtray from Italy, Germany or Chicago
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    Posted 6 months ago

    (8 items)

    I believe this cloisonné brooch (or shippoyaki, as it's called in Japan) dates from the Meiji era (1868–1912), or possibly from Taisho (1912–1926). It's only 1 and 3/8" (3.5 cm) in diameter, yet decorated with an incredibly intricate design. The backing appears to be of base metal, possibly bronze.
    Now, more about the design. It features at least 3 traditional instruments that I could identify:
    * The tsuzumi, an hourglass-shaped double-sided hand drum (the thing with two ovals)
    * The sho, a Japanese free reed musical instrument that makes a very eerie sound (the thing that looks like red and black organ pipes)
    * A flute - possibly a hichikiri (double-reed flute used in gagaku orchestras) or nokan (used in the Noh theatre)
    It's possible these three were chosen specifically because they are common to Noh or gagaku, in which case it may speak to enjoyment of that particular art form.
    The background of the brooch is filled with other elements, specifically abstract swirls, circular elements that resemble kamon (family crests), and shippo - an interlocked circle design similar to the "double wedding ring" quilting pattern.
    This brooch is still colourful and vivid, despite having suffered a minimal degree of enamel and wire loss.
    I've looked online at many other examples of Japanese cloisonné/shippoyaki, but have never seen any other that features musical instruments. In that respect, at least, so far it seems to be unique.
    To me, the mystery about this piece is, was it intended to be worn by a Japanese customer - who would presumably wear it on western-style garments, as brooches are not worn with traditional clothing? Or was it designed for export - in which case the foreign customer probably wouldn't know what they were looking at!

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    1. PhilDMorris PhilDMorris, 6 months ago
      Almost resembling an abstract kaleidoscope view, its a beautiful Japanese brooch !~
    2. wonderfulthing, 6 months ago
      Really unique and beautiful.
    3. rhineisfine rhineisfine, 6 months ago
      PhilDMorris and wonderfulthing, thank you both for your kind comments and for loving my brooch!
    4. racer4four racer4four, 6 months ago
      This is wonderful! As the others said, an almost mod piece in design but probably traditional. The enamel work is so good.
    5. rhineisfine rhineisfine, 6 months ago
      racer4four, thank you for your comment and for loving the pin!
      Re: age, if you Google 'Japanese cloisonne Meiji', you'll find other pieces of similar style and quality - although no brooches! I've wondered if it was originally part of a buckle set, and later "converted" to a pin. Meiji cloisonne buckle pairs are comparatively plentiful (as are satsuma porcelain buckle pairs), often featuring a full moon/crescent moon arrangement. So this could in theory be a "full moon" piece that has been repurposed. I really should take a photo of the back, since the pin attachment is also of a very old type.
      Here's a similar style, if you are curious!
    6. racer4four racer4four, 6 months ago
      Col. Thanks for the links, and call me Karen :)
    7. vetraio50 vetraio50, 6 months ago
      WOW !.!!!.!
    8. rhineisfine rhineisfine, 6 months ago
      Thank you, Karen - I will remember your name now :)
      vetraiao50, thank you for the short but sweet comment and for the love!
      And thank you to everyone else who loved this brooch but whom I failed to thank yet (sorry): kwqd, BHIFOS, Ben, AnythingObscure, dav2no1, aura, Newfld, Manikin, jscott0363, fortapache, RichmondLori, mp.kunst, inky and Mrstyndall!
    9. apostata apostata, 6 months ago
      wow tremendous skill, i think you are completely right , i thought it was coming from the Bugaku "Ryo-oh, but it can,t be , otherwise it was accompagnied with the biwa and the taiko

      we have to compare the size of the sho with the size of tsuzumi, otherwise it is an ?tsuzumi , you are also right

      actually i wonder if this is wedding gift

      and this is meijji not taisho
    10. apostata apostata, 6 months ago
      correction otherwise it is an Otsuzumi
    11. rhineisfine rhineisfine, 6 months ago
      apostata, thanks for your kind and illuminating comments!
      I thought (hoped) it was likely Meiji, so I'm delighted to learn that's the case.
      And especially thank you for providing more information on the instruments.
      May I please ask why you think it might be a wedding gift? I'm curious if there's something specific that suggests that to you.
      (And I've wondered what one would actually wear it on!)
    12. apostata apostata, 6 months ago
      the gagaku got an windinstrument sektion called the kangakki, probably indirectly origin chinese

      this sektion is rather sensitive because the emperor was represented for power reason as a dragon and heavingly figure

      the section exist of the SHO ( heaven element ) , but you have to make an earthely connection , so they used the hichiriki as the lets say the earth part

      and they used the ryutiki ( dragon flute) as the connection to fill in the holes

      the point is in the old days they have to play for the emporer

      but the Sho contains 17 pipes and u have to play aitake ( 6 cords ) which is extremely difficult and only a few manage it, , so you have to play for the emperor and you to perform well ,so you are scared shitless probably , because the preparing of the SHO is also difficult , because you have to wax , and roll it in your hands like dough, before u can use it

      nowadays its only remains for poche theaters and tourists, even the more formal part of the Gagaku ( Kangen ) is not so populair anymore nowadays

      formely for poor people at weddings , you have to give someting, the hikidemono tradition still exists, but there was nothing , so they gave praktical stuff, incense, cutlery , glass , rice bowls sets, cloisonne etc

      the windinstruments are nowadays rather important in japanese folkmusic in combination with taiko and binzasara ,

    13. rhineisfine rhineisfine, 4 months ago
      @apostata, thank you for the additional information and my apologies for not having responded to your second post. I appreciate your taking the time to explain all these things! As it happens, since I posted this, I saw a gagaku performance on YouTube and watched with fascination as the players of the sho prepared their instruments in the way you describe... I had never noticed this before. You can see it clearly at this point, for example:
      How amazing; there can't be too many musical instruments that require such treatment! The sho's subtle and distinctive sound is one of the things I most like about gagaku.
    14. rhineisfine rhineisfine, 4 months ago

      ...thank you for visiting and "loving" my brooch!

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