Antique Stone Koro With Carving

Approximate size: W1.4″ by 2.6″ by H2.5″ or 3.7 by 6.7 by 6.3cm

This is a stone koro or incense burner dating to the latter half of the Taisho era. The stone body features the carving of a leaf on the front and the lid has a finely engraved design. A nice touch is that the lid has a perfect fit to the well in the stone. Though small and a bit unassuming this piece actually exudes a very peculiar atmosphere. Incense burners or ‘koro’ in Japanese are used in conjunction with incense containers called ‘kogo’. Kogo hold incense during the tea ceremony and vary depending on the season. In summer, wooden kogo are used for holding chips of incense wood – in winter ceramic kogo are used for holding kneaded incense intended for the hearth. Koro like their counterpart kogo are also an integral part of a different typically Japanese pursuit; Kōdõ or the appreciation of Japanese incense.

Kōdō (香道, “Way of Fragrance”) is the art of appreciating Japanese incense, and involves using incense within a structure of codified conduct

Haki is a Japanese term I have seen translated as “power,” or “unbridled spirit.” It is used (among other applications, I imagine), to describe works that are particularly expressive in terms of boldness. 

The character or impact of an object is caught in the Japanese word ‘haki‘. The text below is a quote, explaining and describing the meaning (while that was on the subject of a tsuba or Japanese sword guard), I think the concept holds true for any craft object and artwork.

Early (pre-Edo) Owari tsuba, more than most, possess great haki. They are often large, with heavy, wide rims and sukashi walls, restrained tekkotsu, and bold, direct, symmetrical designs, exuding potent martial confidence. They are usually not “poetic” in the way Kyo-sukashi and Akasaka tsuba can be (often to the point of mawkishness). Their forging and steel quality in general is said to be very high. Sasano called Owari sukashi tsuba the ultimate when it comes to guards expressing martial power and spirit in the eyes of the bushi of the time. And it is true, too, in my experience, that when one sees a great Owari tsuba from this period and of this size—in person, the effect is memorable in a way few other tsuba can match. For lack of a better term, they “pop” with boldness, making other tsuba around them lifeless and dull by comparison.

Neither the stone body or the bronze lid have chips or cracks. Condition is aged and excellent. Comes with the original paulownia tomobako or storage box with calligraphy on both sides of the lid. A translation for the writing is shown below.

€250 + shipping cost

The calligraphy on the lid’s exterior is translated as follows

Azuki bean colour

Autumn leaf
incense burner

The calligraphy on the inside of the lid describes the time of creation


The Taisho Era started on July 30th, 1912
and ended on December 25th, 1926