An Elaborate Gold, Silver and Shakudo Model of a Court Carriage
An Elaborate Gold, Silver and Shakudo Model of a Court Carriage


An Elaborate Gold, Silver and Shakudo Model of a Court Carriage
Early 20th century, signed Heian Kozan saku (Takase Kozan; 1869-1934)
The carriage detailed with detachable gold blinds, gold and shakudo ribs and fittings and seven detachable gilt tassels, the four blinds opening to reveal the interior of the carriage, realistically rendered with simulated bamboo flooring in gilt and silver and the walls embellished with engraved bellflowers to the right and cherry blossoms to the left, the ceiling divided in nine sections, each decorated with different types of flowers: gentians, bush clover, cherry blossoms, bellflowers, chrysanthemums, bamboo, plums, irises and peonies; the exterior of the carriage patinated with butterfly and floral patterns and engraved peony blossoms on a powdery, matte silver ground, and with small plaques of paulownia crests on the top of front and back entrances; fitted with fully rotating wheels with silver treads and silver and shakudo rims and shakudo wheel pins, and with a separately cast and matching step stool; signed on the underside of the carriage as above (made by Kozan of Kyoto)
17½in. (44.5cm.) long
Double wood boxes, signed Heian Kozan (Kozan of Kyoto), titled Goshoguruma (Court carriage) and sealed Heian kinko, Kozan saku (made by Kozan, Kyoto goldsmith) on the underside of the lid, and sealed Choyoraku on the lid

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Lot Essay

Ornamental articulated metalwork figures (jizai okimono) were first made in the eighteenth century. It is not certain whether they were initially inspired by Chinese or even Western prototypes. Those craftsmen whose work is best documented, including the Kyoto artist Takase Kozan (Takase Torakichi; 1869-1934), were active in the late nineteenth century. Most are known for realistic figures of animals.

Kozan was prolific--many examples of his work survive--but the court carriage shown here may be his masterpiece. Kozan was born in Kanazawa City, north of Kyoto. In 1883, he began to work in Kobe for the ceramic section of the Export Item Production Department, a shop owned by the trader Ikeda Seisuke. In 1887, he moved to the metalwork section of the Kyoto branch of the shop. He studied metalwork under Tomiki Isuke (1853-1894), a blacksmith from Kanazawa who moved to Kyoto and began to specialize in articulated iron crabs and lobsters.

In 1893, Kozan established his own business producing metalwork and other products for both the domestic and export markets. He managed a large studio of craftsmen. His clients included the royal family. In 1910, the crown prince purchased several of Kozan's figures of insects at the Kyoto Commercial Products Exhibition Hall. For the next twenty years, Kozan submitted numerous works to national industrial expositions, promoted the decorative art industry in Kyoto and served as judge for many exhibitions.

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