Cloisonne Glossary

Here is a selection of vocabulary terms: in English, French, Chinese and Japanese, often used in the description of Oriental cloisonne items.

AKASUKE: red Japanese translucent enamel also called ‘pigeon blood’.

ATTRIBUTED: unsigned or marked piece of cloisonne which is most likely the product of a specific craftsman due to a high level of positive comparison. The examples here, a pair of signed bottles made by Namikawa Yasuyuki of Kyoto and an unsigned tray with very similar enamel colors, design and motifs.


Japanese Cloisonne History

Photo courtesy of Bonhams

Japan was isolated by choice for 2 centuries (1650-1850), it’s closed borders allowed only a few ports for trading or emigration with China and Korea. This practice was meant to keep out the aggressive religious influences, pushy international traders, and ensuing political and commercial upheavals. There was some cloisonne usage and production by the Hirata family during those years. These pieces were small decorative panels applied to sword guards, small mirrors, and furniture implements.


Collecting Japanese Netsuke

Collecting Netsuke By Willi Bosshard – Excerpt from Daruma 39

Over the past 10 years, Alistair Seton of Daruma has asked me a number of times to provide an article on my hobby of collecting netsuke.

I got hooked during my second trip to Japan, from January to March 1965. I had been to the Land of the Rising Sun just after the 1964 Olympics and was very interested in Japanese prints, mostly the fine landscapes by Ando Hiroshige and to a lesser degree Hokusai’s great prints showing the 100 Famous Views of Edo.

One Saturday morning, I was in Shinmonzen Street, bustling then with foreigners and Japanese alike. In the galleries of Tsuruki & Co., I was buying the famous print of Kambara, one of the 53 Stations on the Tokaido to add to my Shono and Kameyama. I paid the then astronomical amount of ¥110,000, just a little over US$300 at the then prevailing rate of 360 yen to the dollar. Of course, at today’s prices, it was a steal especially considering the quality of the snowy landscape.