Jump to content

A series of fittings ( or how not to build a collection )


Bob M.
 Share

Recommended Posts

The linked page includes also this one, although I cannot see the 白澤 in the description:

 

v2-9e5b1cb4d77e3c291fc18ba9ed44ae13_1440w.jpg

 

 

LATER EDIT: This appears to be a page from a Japanese book entitled 絵本写宝袋 (Ehon shaho bukuro / Picture Book: Treasure-bag of Sketches) published in 1720 by one Tachibana Morikuni 橘守国. But does it really depict a 白澤 ? 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It appears that Joly refers to the (earlier?) Chinese beast named 白澤 (BaiZe/Hakutaku). Here is another webpage that contains a better version of the pictures above, and says:

 

" In the book SanCaiTuHui 三才图 会 from the Ming Dynasty 明朝, it says BaiZe has a lion body, two horns and chin hair of a goat or goatee if you want to call it."

 

e799bde6b3bd1.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Dear Pietro, Nice research!  Unfortunately, old mistakes are misleading you.  Instead of stretching the realms of reality and credibility to make the creature on Bob's tsuba fit some other creature, why don't we just just use the one that already fits by modern standards?  Think about the various photos that you have posted that are labeled Hakutaku - all of them basically derive from two originals (the netsuke and the woodblock) (for example see your three woodblocks below - you can tell they all came from the same original.  Now be fair, if that is a Hakutaku, then isn't everything that we have all called a Shishi for hundreds of years really a Hakutaku?  Look at it - it is exactly a shishi (see the gold shishi for comparison).  Therefore, can't you tell that these are just a mistake that has been repeated?  (of course, I'm not saying that the creature on Bob's tsuba is a shishi, I'm just saying that the pictures that you posted to prove it was a hakutaku, look more like a shishi than a Hakutaku or the creature on Bob's tsuba).  In the next post, I'll provide the wikipedia pages for the Japanese Hakutaku and the Chinese "Bai Ze" that it came from.  It is clear, that despite the few errors that you point to which have been repeated many times over the years, the creature on Bob's tsuba does not meet any accurate description or depiction of a Hakutaku.

 

1689629744_ScreenShot2022-01-26at1_31_21AM.thumb.png.e59e440ba164dd3606fe6acde952bfa9.png

 

1819491291_Peitro3.jpg.24fb1828f022e959ab523adb243d3d84.jpg1530512787_Peitro2.jpg.0a2c26b6de8d712804bbc3e8532a6e0d.jpg 92604010_Peitro1.jpg.f38773a68bf8d802652bbf9842917970.jpg

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 1/9/2022 at 3:25 PM, PietroParis said:

There are many varieties of unicorns in Japanese/Chinese mythology. The flames from the sides (circled in red in the picture below) and the "moustache" (circled in green) on the animal in Bob's tsuba don't seem to match the depictions of the Komainu that you posted:

 

164105213_Bobs.JPG.1c99e3d04d51ec9a62c7fb715574d0a1.thumb.JPG.d10b8dc06d0cf0e3f4aa2ce1b8471343.JPG

Dear Pietro, in one of your earlier posts above, you pointed out that the creature on Bob's tsuba had a long moustache but your three "Hakutaku" photos shown in my previous post don't have a long moustache...  By the way, Komainu are depicted with a long moustache and flames in many cases.... 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Dear Pietro, if you really read each of the sites that you have linked, you will see that the Hakutaku has multiple horns and at least three eyes (and in most cases 9 or more).  Here's the pertinent parts from the Wiki article for Hakutaku and Bai Ze (the Chinese creature it came from).  In an earlier post you said that the additional eyes were added in Japan, but as you can see from this site, the Chinese version also has many eyes.  Most importantly, the normal form is bovine (cow-like) and even when in cat-like form, it has at least three eyes (two normal and one in the middle of the forehead).

 

From Wiki: "hakutaku (白澤) in Japanese is a mythical cow-like beast from Chinese legend.... The common Japanese image generally depicts the hakutaku as a "cow or monstrous cat creature with nine eyes and six horns, arranged in sets of three and two on both its flanks and its man-like face. It is also commonly depicted as having the body of a lion and eight eyes, known for having a horn or multiple horns on their heads." However, the number of extra eyes actually varies depending on interpretation, and sometimes the creature is pictured with only one in the center of its head. It is considered to be "intelligent, and well read with the ability to understand human speech."

 

872843882_ScreenShot2022-01-26at1_59_23AM.thumb.png.98bc1a7c36f6ebae71c37d00e983d7e6.png

1601165897_ScreenShot2022-01-26at1_58_38AM.thumb.png.e969e7ffb287fa80c45340cfa59e7140.png

518051259_ScreenShot2022-01-26at1_58_50AM.thumb.png.b1853fb49d6527e985eb7abfdfa3c175.png

Link to comment
Share on other sites

11 hours ago, Tanto54 said:

Instead of stretching the realms of reality and credibility to make the creature on Bob's tsuba fit some other creature, why don't we just just use the one that already fits by modern standards? 

 

Unless you believe that Bob's tsuba is modern, I don't see the point in referring to "modern standards". All we can do is speculate on which legend the maker of the tsuba was referring to, and which kind of imagery he was drawing inspiration from.

 

11 hours ago, Tanto54 said:

Think about the various photos that you have posted that are labeled Hakutaku - all of them basically derive from two originals (the netsuke and the woodblock) (for example see your three woodblocks below - you can tell they all came from the same original. 

 

I did indeed refer to the third woodblock as "a better version of the pictures above".  However, there is also the unrelated painting I posted earlier (seen below in context). That beast even appears to have horns, unless those are flames sprouting from its head.

 

271655387_10157976708325881_634975734024626422_n.thumb.jpg.ee0d2f63287f1c9277e0caf8104d9d5e.jpg

 

10 hours ago, Tanto54 said:

if you really read each of the sites that you have linked, you will see that the Hakutaku has multiple horns and at least three eyes (and in most cases 9 or more).  Here's the pertinent parts from the Wiki article for Hakutaku and Bai Ze (the Chinese creature it came from).  In an earlier post you said that the additional eyes were added in Japan, but as you can see from this site, the Chinese version also has many eyes.  Most importantly, the normal form is bovine (cow-like) and even when in cat-like form, it has at least three eyes (two normal and one in the middle of the forehead).

 

I can't see where the Wiki article you quote says that "the Chinese version has many eyes".  What it does say is "The common Japanese image generally depicts the hakutaku as ...". Indeed, both of the images that you pasted from the Wiki article are Japanese. It seems to me that a plausible way to combine these contradictory pieces of information could be the following: the mythical talking beast named 白澤, introduced in the Chinese book Yunji Qiqian, was represented in China with a lion-like body, possibly horns, and sprouting flames, with no indication of additional eyes (at least in the two Chinese [*] images we have seen above). This appears to be the tradition Joly refers to. At some stage after its introduction in Japan, the beast transitioned to a cow-like body and gained extra eyes. The legend associated to it remained the same, though: the writing in the Sekien print that you link above reads "Deep in the distant Eastern realms / Did the Yellow Emperor find Bai Ze / it taught him to counter hauntings / Of every type, kind and way" (the translation is from this book).

As to the beast in Bob's tsuba, as I wrote above, we can only speculate. Did the maker have access to the older, Chinese representation of the BaiZe, or was he referring to a different legend entirely? The fact that the beast is sprouting flames suggests that it is an exceptional animal, "regular" shishi (horned or not) generally don't do that.

 

 

[*] A correction: according to this page, the scroll painting "Strange Birds and Beasts" is in fact Japanese, but it was inspired by the Chinese book "Classic of Mountains and Seas" .

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Qilin is an alternative spelling for Kirin. As mentioned earlier, Kirin generally have hooves, but I am under the impression that the term is used also in a wider sense to mean a mythical horned beast. This scuplture does indeed resemble the beast on your tsuba. It would be interesting to know if it stands (or, rather, sits) guard in front of a temple with a companion, which would reinforce George's Komainu interpretation.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Meanwhile, I have found in this page what appears to be a translation of the text on the page from the SanCaiTuHui devoted to the BaiZe:

 


92604010_Peitro1.jpg.f38773a68bf8d802652bbf9842917970.jpg.e421cc2d442f75157c094f206a933180.jpg

 

 

 

 

"There is a beast in Dongwang Mountain, one name is Bai Ze, who can speak, and the king who has virtue and bright light will come to the distant place. In the past, the Yellow Emperor went hunting and went to the East China Sea. This beast has words, and it is time to eliminate evil."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anyway, let's not lose sight of the fact that we are discussing an imaginary beast, how can anyone tell whether a given representation is "true" or "false"? If I understand correctly, the image of the BaiZe in the SanCaiTuHui predates the drawings of Sekien and Hokusai by 150-200 years. It would seem quite absurd to consider it "a mistake" that we must correct, just because it does not conform with what became the standard representation of the Hakutaku in Japan centuries later. I would rather say that it is just an earlier interpretation of the legend.

 

 

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Apologies Bob for hogging your thread, maybe we should move the posts related to this particular tsuba to a separate thread?
 

I just wanted to add that one can find plenty of contemporary Chinese depictions of 白澤 BaiZe that look just like a flaming horned lion, without extra eyes:

 

205477c84bffbf4a947d.jpg.a92c3e417e64b80cd7095a32fa97aa7f.jpg3a5279ca4df9f9168c78.jpg.8d35544487103f1c0d5eab9835acf7c6.jpg37b12ae8fa5741b4a5d9a84bbf61cf86.thumb.jpg.f9913e2e398880eae1ddcd4160bcc367.jpg

 

These are of course not relevant to the interpretation of Bob's tsuba, but they attest that the more "generic" representation of the BaiZe has survived through the centuries, at least in China. The website where I picked the first two images (see here) speculates that the eyes and hooves must have been Sekien's own addition. This however seems incorrect because the painting by Gusukuma Seiho shown in the Wikipedia page is much earlier.

P.S. I see only now that the third beast has hooves...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The Baize/Hakutaku discussion has become a bit sprawling, with relevant information (images, links) scattered among different posts, so I will try to put some order in it, including only the images that I could identify. To be clear, all of this is based on naive google searches and google translations, and should in no way be considered "research".

 

1) The 11th-century Chinese book "Yunji Qiqian" records the legend of the encounter between the "Yellow Emperor" Huang Ti and a talking creature named 白澤 (BaiZe, which in Japanese reads Hakutaku). This creature taught him about thousands of mythical animals, which the Emperor described in a now-lost book entitled "BaiZe Tu".

 

2) Early Chinese depictions of the 白澤 appear to be scarce. A Chinese encyclopedia named "Sancai Tuhui", from the beginning of the 17th century, includes this page  where the beast is represented essentially as a flaming lion (see this link for a translation of the text):

 

SancaiTuhui.jpg.77d2039709850a082a432e59f6668067.jpg

 

3) The depiction of the 白澤 as a flaming lion was adopted also in a Japanese scroll entitled "Strange Birds and Beasts", conserved in the library of Seijo University. According to this site, the scroll dates to the Edo period and it was inspired by an antique Chinese bestiary named "Classic of Mountains and Seas":

 

scroll.thumb.jpg.2fa89ebb7f9a0405d6dff3cb348d0ca9.jpg

 

 

3bis) [Later addition, thanks Piers for help in the Translation section!]  Another possible occurrence in Japanese literature of the flaming-horned-lion depiction of the 白澤 – which in Japanese can also be written 白沢 – is in the 9th volume of a Japanese book entitled "Ehon shaho bukuro" (Picture Book: Treasure-bag of Sketches) published in 1720 by one Tachibana Morikuni (see this link). The picture is labeled 沢獣 Takuju, i.e. "The Taku beast". Note BTW that this book is known to have inspired several netsuke models, thus it is not impossible that it was the source for the netsuke shown earlier in this thread.

 

Takuju.jpeg.95c2d108ff4cb9b786e47dcfe617b589.jpeg

 

 

4) A painting of the 白澤 in the now-familiar form of a cow with human face and additional eyes on the sides was made in the first half of the 17th century in the Ryukyu Kingdom (modern Okinawa) by the court painter Gusukuma Seiho (1614-1644):

 

800px-Gusukuma_Portrait_of_the_Sacred_Beast_Baize.thumb.jpg.fdc30673eb8d0bff598106bbef9bedf9.jpg

 

 

5) Later in the Edo period, the hooved, multi-eyed version of the 白澤 was further popularized in famous woodblock books by Sekien (1712-1788) and Hokusai (1760-1849):

sekien.jpg.20bbec6b0afda4503bf20c545185e10d.jpg07-Katsushika_Hokusai.jpg.8ecb28bf735bf268ceec55e6ec6315f2.jpg

 

6) In his 1908 classic "Legend in Japanese Art" Henri Joly describes the Hakutaku as having " ... an elongated Shishi  head, sometimes with two horns, bushy tail, strong forepaws with claws, and flames surrounding its body", appearing to follow the depictions of "Sancai Tuhui" and "Strange Birds and Beasts".  [Later edit: or perhaps Morikuni's book, see 3bis]

 

7) Contemporary Japanese depictions of the Hakutaku generally follow the multi-eyed cow standard. OTOH, contemporary Chinese depictions of the BaiZe are more variable and include versions where the beast is a horned flaming lion. See e.g. this one which appears to be a comics character:

 

205477c84bffbf4a947d.jpg.a92c3e417e64b80cd7095a32fa97aa7f.jpg.ed2dcaf458735732b1efabb975fb1886.jpg
 

 

To summarize, let me repeat my statements from a few posts above: we must not lose sight of the fact that we are discussing an imaginary beast, and any given depiction of it is just a work of fantasy. It seems absurd to consider the early depictions of of "Sancai Tuhui" and "Strange Birds and Beasts" as mistaken, just because they do not conform with what became the standard representation of the Hakutaku in Japan centuries later. Similarly, the Hakutaku entry of Joly can certainly be considered incomplete because it does not include the hooved, multi-eyed version of the beast, but I would not consider it downright wrong.

 

Having said all this, we are not any closer to knowing what the makers of Bob's tsuba and of the Berhens/Brockhaus/Sharpe netsuke had in mind when they carved their animals. Were they referring to the legend of the 白澤 and using the earlier lion-like imagery, or were they depicting a completely different beast?

 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

BREAKING NEWS!!!

 

Trying to identify one of the prints that I did not include in my write-up above because it was not clear whether it referred to the 白澤, I stumbled on what I'm quite sure was the pictorial source for the animal in Bob's tsuba. It is on a page of the 9th volume of a Japanese book entitled 絵本写宝袋 (Ehon shaho bukuro / Picture Book: Treasure-bag of Sketches) published in 1720 by one Tachibana Morikuni 橘守国. See this link.

 

Foundit!.thumb.png.c9a4bbc03d528ad963149ea6a8d75ae9.png164105213_Bobs.JPG.1c99e3d04d51ec9a62c7fb715574d0a1.thumb.JPG.14cd0af4d0a100cb4ecb7885a268fc52.JPG

 

The animal on the right is our guy. All we need to do is decipher the two boldface characters on the top-right corner of the page and we will have our answer. They look neither like 白澤 (Hakutaku) nor like 狛犬 (Komainu). Could please one of the group's Japanese-reading members come to our rescue?

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, Tanto54 said:

It is a kaichi (獬豸) which is the origin/another name of the Komainu...

 

Well then, problem solved! The Wiki page of the Xiezhi does not mention a Komainu connection, and this page lists the Kaichi among "Imaginary beasts other than Komainu". However, a google search for "kaichi komainu" does yield pages that suggest such connection (e.g., "seen as a Chinese equivalent of the Japanese komainu" ). For me the moral of the story is that the only way to figure out which among dozens of similar beasts (in this case, horned lion-like creatures) in Chinese/Japanese mythology is represented in a given artifact is to find the image that the artisan was inspired by. More often than not it is going to be from some collection of sketches such as the one by Morikuni.

P.S. the Wiki page linked above also offers another view of the statue found by Bob:

 

Xiezhi1.thumb.jpg.17a1b2e90f0caa69df332333e15d5ecd.jpg
 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Dear Pietro, here is the entry from the Japan Wiki page.  It says that Kaichi is the origin of Komainu.  Will you at least admit that the animal on Bob's tsuba is not a Hakutaku?

 

P.S. Are you just trolling me?

 

獬豸(かいち、中国語: 獬豸; 拼音: xièzhì シエジー、獬廌)は、中国の伝説上の動物である。日本の狛犬の起源ともされる。

 

1342027592_ScreenShot2022-01-27at3_11_37PM.thumb.png.3e74c50844186520471bb5908376c590.png

 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, Tanto54 said:

Dear Pietro, here is the entry from the Japan Wiki page.  It says that Kaichi is the origin of Komainu.  Will you at least admit that the animal on Bob's tsuba is not a Hakutaku?

 

And will you admit that it is absurd to claim that early 17th-century depictions of an imaginary animal are "mistaken"? And most importantly, why do you have to turn this into a pissing contest?

 

After finding the picture that the maker of the tsuba was inspired by – which does not seem related to the legend in the "Yunji Qiqian", although I cannot read the text – it is clear that the animal on Bob's tsuba is not a Hakutaku. So?

  • Wow 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi George , Hi Pietro ,

 

Many thanks to both of you for this interesting ' adjunct ' to the thread. It seems that you have both come to a similar answer although by different routes and at different speeds .:clap:

 

Your willingness to research the subject is surely an example to us all and is , in large part , one of the ideas behind the thread.

 

Please continue to look at the thread from time to time and pass on any views / comments  -  it is MUCH appreciated.

 

Best Regards

Bob

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Bizarre that our most educational threads usually arise through argument. :)
I hope you can both acknowledge that you have both educated all of us far more than the original subject matter. Hope you can agree to disagree slightly, and accept our thanks in the spirit it's intended.

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I was trying to get to the bottom of the matter while following only the historical sources available. I'm glad that the subject of the tsuba is identified beyond doubt now, I feel less bad about hogging all these pages. As I am also a netsuke collector, I was mainly interested in the Hakutaku business. Thanks to Piers' input, I have now added a point 3bis to the writeup above concerning another possible occurrence of the flaming-horned-lion version in Japanese literature. I am constantly reminded of the fact that being unable to read Japanese is a big handicap in this endeavor, which makes the results inevitably amateurish...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

P.S. Do what you want with this additional piece of information: going back to the early posts of this discussion, I noticed that for Joly Kaichi is another name of the Hakutaku. Clearly he was sticking to the tradition of the Hakutaku as a flaming horned lion, which I would not consider "wrong" but just alternative to (and co-existing with) the cow-like, multi-eyed tradition.

 

Joly.png

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Item No 184  Iron Tsuba  7.92 cm x 7.26 cm x 0.55 cm

 

Traditional style and motif , possibly late edo

 

 

Item No. 185  Iron Tsuba with gold details  8.22 cm x 7.71 cm x 4.40 cm

 

Subject of fruit , leaves and tendrils , small dots of gold as water drops nicely carved from the solid plate . Unsigned ,  Bushu - Ito ? Mid to late Edo ?

IMG_1312.JPG

IMG_1313.JPG

IMG_2425.JPG

IMG_2426.JPG

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Item No. 186    Iron Tsuba   7.77 cm x 7.62 cm x 0.47 cm

 

Subject of grasses and dew ? Akasaka , Mid Edo.

 

 

Item No. 187   Iron Tsuba   7.38 cm x 7.26 cm x 0.52 cm

 

Subject of axe or hatchet and lightning . Akasaka , Mid Edo .

 

 

Two classic subjects with typical Akasaka treatment .

IMG_2296.JPG

IMG_2297.JPG

IMG_2294.JPG

IMG_2295.JPG

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Item No. 188   Iron Tsuba  8.07 cm x 7.18 cm x 0.61 cm

 

Akasaka axe and lightning / pine tree theme , this time in first master , Tadamasa style.

 

 

Item No. 189   Iron Tsuba   7.24 cm x 6.93 cm x 0.48 cm

 

Soto design of paulonia and window , Akasaka or perhaps Nishigaki ?

 

Good , lustrous patina

IMG_2209.JPG

IMG_2210.JPG

IMG_2163.JPG

IMG_2164.JPG

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...