Friday, May 12, 2017


When I have discussions with people in person or by email that know very little about Japan, there are several cultural attributes that most everyone is aware of; sushi, kimono, Mount Fuji, chrysanthemums, Samurai/Ninja and bamboo. In fact, bamboo is one of the stalwart designs and decorations of Japan going back to even Neolithic times and in later times was part of what the Chinese and Japanese literati referred to as the Four Gentleman or the Four Noble Ones; the plum blossom. the orchid, the chrysanthemum and bamboo. To see how intertwined and developed the bamboo motif is you have to look no further than the illustrated futamono, covered box form by Oda Aya (b.1947). Decorated in a Rimpa influenced style the box form acts as canvas to multiple layers of overglazes and firings to create a surfaces which married visual and tactile textures with a shimmery copper background highlighting the surface. Oda Aya lives and works in Shiga prefecture and his work is typically decorated with naturalistic motifs such as seashells, cats, flowers of various types, bamboo, etc. of which this box, Bamboo Grive is an excellent example.  His work has been juried into numerous Nihon Kogie Kai Exhibitions over the years and he won the International Color Painting Gold medal in 1997 and the prestigious Grand Prize Excellence Award in 2012 for his tea ceramics. Oda has been collected by numerous private and public collections including the Ueno Royal Museum, the Miho Museum and museums in France and the United States. This classic box by Oda is a wonderful example of his work which is not particularly well known outside of Japan but it is a wonderful blend of the art of Rimpa, modern Japanese pottery and a design element which is readily identified as one of the iconic symbols of Japan.

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