20. Koro charm

The next object is a lovely little kouro 香​炉 (こうろ) incense burner. It comes complete with lid, which most have lost over the years. It is beautifully designed and implemented, though with one interesting tiny flaw which adds to the charm.

We can see from the ’roundels’ that this is a mature design with excellent execution. The ‘strength’ spiral wiring that fills the empty spaces is also neat and has become part of the decorative design.

The wiring for the blue band around image ref 20.3 is very neat, and the enamel for image ref 20.4 is very tidily done given the small size of these decorations which are each just over 2 cm across. That is why the small floral designs below are a mystery.

We can imagine that image ref 20.6 was approaching the desired effect, that is to suggest that there is a lower layer of petals below the eight petals above. Normally you might expect this to be done by some additional wiring, but here the craftsperson has had a disaster. In the middle of a very tidy cloisonne object these, though tiny, are a mess. Was this because they were experimenting with a new enhancement to a basic eight petal flower or was it just that they entrusted a junior worker to a seemingly simple task? We will never know.

One other aspect of interest is the pattern of wiring used next to the usual ring of red dots by the base and elsewhere.

Looking at the first image, which is from this kouro, the wiring that contains the blue enamel has the same shape as that we met in two earlier vases (see the second image above from object 10 for the wiring that contains the green enamel). It is a sort of ‘fish scale’ decoration with perhaps a look of three leaf clover. It is reasonably rare so provides an interesting connection that might come in handy later when trying to identify workshops.

This is a lovely kouro, created with a great deal of excellent and detailed design and technical work. The earlier nitpicking only shows what a massive task it was producing every one of these objects to such high standards.

Object 20. Kouro (with lid) height 8.0 cm weight 149 gm.

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