Height: 4 1/2 inches, 12 cm
Length: 10 1/4 inches, 26 cm

Wild goose incense burner

by Mitsui Asoo
Japan, Showa period, 1926 – 1989

A mixed metal koro or incense burner in the form of a recumbent wild goose. The cover forms part of the bird’s wings, has two triangular openings and a semi-circular hinged handle. The well-detailed bird is made from metal of different colours. It is signed on the base: ‘Asoo saku’ (Made by Asoo).  The goose retains its original wood box, tomobako, which is inscribed: ‘Yagamo koro, Asoo saku, with seal Asoo’ (Incense burner in a design of wild goose, made by Asoo, with seal Asoo). 

There is an additional inscription by a previous collector on the storage box, calling it a ‘Hato Hanaike’ (Flower vessel in a shape of a dove). However, as inscribed by the artist himself, this work was intended as a koro (incense burner) in the shape of a wild goose (Yagamo). Mitsui Asoo (1910 – 1999) was born in Sano City, Tochigi prefecture. In 1933 he graduated from the hammered metal art department (tankin) of what is now the Tokyo University of Fine Art.  In the following year 1934, he exhibited and won a prize at the 15th Teiten exhibition.  In 1958, he became a member of the Nitten exhibition organisation. In 1963, he was appointed professor at the Tokyo University of Fine Art and he became a judge at the Nitten exhibitions. In 1971 he was appointed a chairman of the Japan Metal Artists Association (Nihon kinko sakka kyokai).  His works are preserved in the collection of the MOMAK (National Museum of Modern Art) in Kyoto.