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Van Ham - Wiedersehen mit einem Einhorn (A love letter to the Kirin)

A forum for discussions on INS-sponsor auctions from future and past.
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borat
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Re: Van Ham - Wiedersehen mit einem Einhorn (A love letter to the Kirin)

Postby borat » Tue Dec 05, 2017 9:22 am

I would like to ask Clive, if he was writing this catalogue, how would he date this Kirin ?

Circa ?

I note that it last sold at public auction for $88K USD in 1988
Last edited by borat on Tue Dec 05, 2017 9:28 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Clive
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Re: Van Ham - Wiedersehen mit einem Einhorn (A love letter to the Kirin)

Postby Clive » Tue Dec 05, 2017 10:49 am

Hi Gopi (borat), nice to hear from you. I hope you are well.

An interesting question.

Forgive me if I am being presumptuous but I think its fair to assume that when you ask the question, how would I date this Kirin? you are specifically focused on the date when the carver made the original carving whereas the object that I would describe if indeed tasked with writing a catalogue entry is the product of a few hundred years of "making".. some of it artifice, some of it the consequence of less deliberate acts and some of it natural aging processes.. only the start of which most probably began sometime in the late 18th Cen. A subtle but I believe crucially important difference in the way we would perceive the piece.

dougsanders
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Re: Van Ham - Wiedersehen mit einem Einhorn (A love letter to the Kirin)

Postby dougsanders » Tue Dec 05, 2017 3:21 pm

souldeep wrote:I understand that it is the different characteristics and qualities in the Ivory that lend themselves to the differences in colouration we can observe. I suspect in this case, the back of the netsuke, displaying a darker colouration, is from the outer layer of the tusk. The front of the netsuke, from the softer inside material of the tusk.



Specifically, from the base of the tusk, behind the gum line where there's a larger amount of cementum material and the tusk hollows out for the pulp cavity.

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souldeep
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Re: Van Ham - Wiedersehen mit einem Einhorn (A love letter to the Kirin)

Postby souldeep » Tue Dec 05, 2017 3:43 pm

dougsanders wrote:
souldeep wrote:I understand that it is the different characteristics and qualities in the Ivory that lend themselves to the differences in colouration we can observe. I suspect in this case, the back of the netsuke, displaying a darker colouration, is from the outer layer of the tusk. The front of the netsuke, from the softer inside material of the tusk.



Specifically, from the base of the tusk, behind the gum line where there's a larger amount of cementum material and the tusk hollows out for the pulp cavity.

Doug - that is very specific. Thank you for sharing this.

I should imagine you have already guessed my next question. Would you be willing to share how you identified the piece of ivory is from behind the gum line?
Piglet: "Pooh?" Pooh: "Yes, Piglet?" Piglet: "I've been thinking..." Pooh: "That's a very good habit to get into to, Piglet." - A.A. Milne.

dougsanders
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Re: Van Ham - Wiedersehen mit einem Einhorn (A love letter to the Kirin)

Postby dougsanders » Tue Dec 05, 2017 5:49 pm

From our good friends at US Fish and Wildlife:
ivory diagram.jpg

From this diagram we can see that a large portion of the tusk lies beneath the gum line of the elephant. This portion of the tusk begins to get more and more hollow as it opens up into the pulp cavity. In order for the tusk (or any teeth) to be bonded to the jaw, a component called cementum covers this area. This tusk region was typically used for vessels such as brush pots, as well as netsuke that exhibit a flatter and sometimes quite visibly curved shape. You can just about make out a general curved shape to our kirin, though it's not as pronounced as some. The outside of the curve being the yellower color, the inside- whiter.

Cementum is just one of three components of the elephant tusk, along with dentine and enamel. Each, while considered 'ivory' has slightly different qualities. Something about the coarser, softer quality of cementum lends itself to being yellower and yellowing more, perhaps attracting hand oils more, etc. I think it must have to do with the composition- there is more organic matter (ie collagen) in it than in dentine.

Cementum carries all the way up the tusk, but gets thinner as we travel further along. It is also ground off/removed at times to reveal a strictly dentine-containing carving material.

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souldeep
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Re: Van Ham - Wiedersehen mit einem Einhorn (A love letter to the Kirin)

Postby souldeep » Tue Dec 05, 2017 6:55 pm

Doug, a sincere thank you for taking the time to write all this. Lots of food for thought.

dougsanders wrote: Something about the coarser, softer quality of cementum lends itself to being yellower and yellowing more, perhaps attracting hand oils more, etc. I think it must have to do with the composition- there is more organic matter (ie collagen) in it than in dentine.

Could I focus on this point first, becuase it's the reverse of the way I've understood colouration so far. It's a really important point. I understood that the outer layer of the tusk was the area we often see taking on a deeper honeyed yellow. That's also the area I've ussally noticed is naturally curved and often the bottom part (or himotoshi side) of a netsuke. It sounds like I should actually be understanding this colouration in reverse?
Piglet: "Pooh?" Pooh: "Yes, Piglet?" Piglet: "I've been thinking..." Pooh: "That's a very good habit to get into to, Piglet." - A.A. Milne.

dougsanders
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Re: Van Ham - Wiedersehen mit einem Einhorn (A love letter to the Kirin)

Postby dougsanders » Tue Dec 05, 2017 8:50 pm

Yes Martyn, that's exactly as I'm describing it. I reread what I wrote and I'm not sure where I'm misleading, but you've got it right.

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souldeep
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Re: Van Ham - Wiedersehen mit einem Einhorn (A love letter to the Kirin)

Postby souldeep » Tue Dec 05, 2017 10:21 pm

I'm being a prize nob. I got caught up confusing myself that the softer material was Dentine (internal tusk), and the harder material was Cementum (outer tusk). Why did I think this? For no other reason than I imagined an external shell protects a softer centre, rather than remembering what I've been taught.

I won't confuse myself again over a characteristic of Cementum being softer than Dentine. Thank you.

Thankfully, on identifying the outer and inner tusk by colouration, I remained sane.
Last edited by souldeep on Wed Dec 06, 2017 12:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Edited my late night "wobble"
Piglet: "Pooh?" Pooh: "Yes, Piglet?" Piglet: "I've been thinking..." Pooh: "That's a very good habit to get into to, Piglet." - A.A. Milne.

dougsanders
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Re: Van Ham - Wiedersehen mit einem Einhorn (A love letter to the Kirin)

Postby dougsanders » Tue Dec 05, 2017 11:34 pm

Softer might not even be the right adjective.. Just think of cementum having proportionally less mineral content than dentine, and more organic matter.

now, back to that kirin!

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souldeep
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Re: Van Ham - Wiedersehen mit einem Einhorn (A love letter to the Kirin)

Postby souldeep » Tue Dec 05, 2017 11:45 pm

I think I'm having a bad night Doug ;) Tired, and perhaps had a bit to much red tonight. I've discussed, read and understood about Cementum and Dentine characteristics before. I'll sign off now, and get a good sleep :)
Piglet: "Pooh?" Pooh: "Yes, Piglet?" Piglet: "I've been thinking..." Pooh: "That's a very good habit to get into to, Piglet." - A.A. Milne.


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