Japanese Export Sets

The opening of Japan during the Meiji period led to an increased of trading activities with Japan, until that era a more closed country. Not only Japanese woodcuts were sought after by European collectors and ratites, arousing a “Japonerie” mode which soon surpassed the Chinoiserie mode. Sought after was all the Japanese art in ivory. The netsukes became a fascinating collecting object. The English author Edmund de Waal (2010) gives a literary form to this collectors’ frenzy in his novel “The Hare with Amber Eyes”. 

Some typical examples of the Japanese production of export sets were products from ivory carvers. Important for the customers was an obvious “Japanese” ambiance, for instance the robes with their more than large sleeves. Or pagoda like towers. The dimensions of the pieces are, compared with Chinese ones, disctinctly smaller and stay, rounded and stocky.

Some faces shown in Japanese chessmen have blackened eyebrows and hair are intensely directed to the opposite parties, which means the expression of a certain aggression and concentration on both sides. Even if the single pieces of the brown side seem widlder and more belligerent that those of the white side, above all the “samurai” in traditional outfit with his helmet, knee-breeches and boots.

 

Chessmen on round bases

Japan, ivory. One side stained brown. King’s height 5.5cm. Pawns 4.8cm. Source: CCI (2012) Chinese Chess Sets

Chessmen for European Market

Faces with blackened eyebrows and hair. “Samurai” is traditional outfit with his helmet, knee-beeches and boots. Both groups of foot soldiers ware the same armour and two of each part show the same additional weapons. On both sides, the counsellors are monks with males  Japan, ivory. One side stained brown. King’s height 12.7cm. Pawns 8.0cm. . Source: CCI (2012) Chinese Chess Sets