Style Court

Eight Years of Textiles, History, Art, Gardens, and a Little Mental Traveling with Courtney Barnes


Pagodas, Dahlias, and Peonies

[Screengrab of Ziyi Zhang in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, 2000.]

As a friendly nod to my pagoda lamp post, the wonderful Quintessence took time during her birthday weekend to send me something rather extraordinary. 

Images of a pair of antique Chinese ivory model pagodas spied at Kentshire. During my first two years of blogging, chinoiserie fever had a hold of me. And, truth be told, I thought I'd already posted some exceptional pagodas but these circa 1810 pieces from Canton are showstoppers.

The models feature garden terraces, trees, tables with precious objects, scholar's rocks, bells and Buddhas.

According to Kentshire, the V & A has a Cantonese ivory boat of the same quality that was brought back to England in 1803 by Mr. Richard Hall. Also of interest: Kentshire is one of the exhibitors at the 2010 San Francisco Fall Antiques Show starting October 27. (See preview images here.)

[Inro, Koma Yasumasa (maker) Japan (made) ca. 1750-1850
Black, gold, silver and red lacquer with silver foil 
© Victoria and Albert Museum.]

Although I didn't find an image of the V & A's boat in an online search, I did stumble upon an interesting Japanese inro, or container made up of tiers. This piece, decorated with a pagoda and cryptomeria trees under a moon, was made by lacquer artist Koma Yasumasa. The museum explains that since kimono -- traditional Japanese clothing -- lacked pockets, Japanese men used the inro as a small storage vessel. In many cases, though, it was simply a fashion accessory.

Apart from chinoiserie fever, I've also suffered in the past from dahlia mania. Or at least there were times when I tried to fan the flames, hoping it would spread through Atlanta with the result being an abundance of large blooms appearing at farmers' markets, grocery stores or florists' shops. Finally, this year I found at Whole Foods small bunches of dahlias -- white, rust and lavender-pink.

Like the peonies of autumn. A lovely $6 treat for those of us who don't have any growing in the back yard.

Updates: 10.25.10

I think I see more dahlias in Coleen Rider's gorgeous An End of Summer Eden story over at B & B.

And on the subject of contemporary chinoiserie's role in contemporary art, SINOPTICON is a must visit. Many thanks to Emile de Bruijn at Treasure Hunt and Craig Hanson at Enfilade for keeping us all informed.


Alcira Molina-Ali said...

Magnificent post.
May chinoiserie fever and pagoda passions never die ; )

ArchitectDesign™ said...

we have the same minds think alike!

Style Court said...

Stefan -- Yes! Aviators forever :)

Alcira -- I do think my interest in chinoiserie will be life-long. Thanks for your enthusiasm.

Janet said...

Goodness, the details on those pagodas are amazing. What stories they must tell. Wish you had been with me at the flower wholesaler the other weekend. MASSES of dahlias. They always make me think of fall.