Vase with carp design



Vase with carp design
Signed “Made by Izumi 和泉造”
Japan, Edo-Meiji period (1850-1900), ca. 19th century
H. 12 in (30.5cm) – Ø. 4.7 in (12cm)

The carp has been a popular motif in Japanese art since ancient times. There is a legend called Toryūmon (登龍門) in China which tells of a carp that succeeds in climbing a waterfall and becomes a dragon. It is an auspicious story of great success in life. This legend was introduced to Japan, and its adoption is illustrated by the samurai’s custom of putting up carp streamers for the Boys’ Festival in May. What was seen as the carp’s powerful life force was also admired.
On this vase, three carps are depicted on one side in three-dimensional relief. Some parts of their bodies are hidden as if concealed by the water they are swimming in. The shading is beautifully rendered. The fish are represented with great refinement and appear absolutely lifelike. The artist is unknown but clearly had great skill and ability.