Japanese Kitagawa Porcelain Vase Susanoo Storm God vs Dragon Orochi 19th C
A exquisitely hand painted, highly decorative and collectable antique Japanese Kitagawa export porcelain vase dating from circa 1890 during the Meiji era in the late 19th century. The vase is of a footed tapering ovoid form with a small short flared trumpet neck and twin loop handles. Unusually it has a hand painted continuous scene around the body of the vase.
It has been beautifully and very finely hand painted in polychrome enamels and gilding with the Japanese Shinto legend of kami (神) Susanoo, who is the god of the seas and storms, and the eight headed dragon Yamamoto-no-Orochi. (スサノオとヤマタノオロチ Susanō to Yamatanōrochi), his name is often abbreviated to Orochi. The scene painted on the vase appears to be based upon the woodblock print of the subject by Toyohara Chikanobu (豊原周延) which was created circa 1870. (ref.1)
The legend, originally recorded in two ancient Japanese texts Kojiki (ca. 680 AD) and Nihongi (ca. 720 AD) , of the kami Susanoo-no-Mikoto who slays the eight-headed beast Yamata-no-Orochi. After slaying the beast, Susanoo found the sword Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi in one of the eight tails of the gigantic serpent.
Orochi, was an eight-tailed and eight-headed dragon who, every year, devoured one of the daughters of the kunitsukami, (two earthly gods). The legend starts off by telling the story of how Susanoo-no-Mikoto, the Shinto god of sea and storms, was expelled from the heavens because of his trickeries towards Amaterasu, his sister and the goddess of the sun.
Near the Hi River (which is now referred to as Hii River) in the province of Izumo, Susanoo came across two kunitsukami, (earthly gods) who were weeping about how they had to give up a daughter each year for seven years to please Orochi and would soon have to sacrifice their last daughter, Kushi-nada-hime. (She is painted on the right of the vase.)
Susanoo offered to help save Kushi-nada-hime in exchange for her hand in marriage. The kunitsukami agreed and Susanoo transformed their daughter into a comb right before their eyes. Then he tucked her into his hair and told the kunitsukami to prepare eight lots of sake and make eight tubs filled with the alcohol. Some of the tubs are painted in the image.
Upon reaching the tubs, Orochi drank all the sake, became drunk, and eventually fell asleep. Susanoo took this opportunity to slay the dragon by using his large sword to chop it into small pieces. As Susanoo split the dragon’s tail open, he found a sword inside, which would, later on, be called the Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi – the same sword Susanoo would eventually give to Amaterasu as a form of reconciliation.
The sword, along with a mirror and jewel respectively called Yata no Kagami and Yasakani no Magatama, are considered to be the Imperial Regalia of Japan.
The neck of the vase appears to be decorated with a Japanese kamon or family crest, it appears to be that of the Kawari Kiri Kuzushi clan. (ref 2)
The base of the vase has a small but neat and clearly marked 大日本北川造 - Dai Nihon Kitagawa zō - Great Japan made by Kitagawa.
It is in excellent antique condition.There is some wear to the gilding. There are no chips cracks nor restoration. Please see the images.
This is a highly collectable and very decorative item and great for display on its own as a statement piece or as part of a collection antique Japanese, Oriental porcelain or Imari-yaki.
Free UK postage and International shipping when purchased at the listed price.
Body Diameter 5 3/8 inches ( 13.7 cm)
Height 9 1/4 inches ( 23.5 cm)
Weight 792 grammes unpacked
1. Wikipedia- en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yamata_no_Orochi
2. doyouknowjapan.satcom/symbols/ - Japanese family crests - Kamon