Thursday, March 31, 2011

Chinese Figurines Made in Japan

Every antique lover has a story of "the one that got away." My first such was the blue velvet corner chair I found at age 16 and "visited" all summer long, daydreaming of saving the money to buy it. But at $250, it was out of reach; I only made $2.25 an hour working at a cafe. It went to some other lucky soul. 
Much more recently, this charming duo escaped my clutches. I photographed them for a job, then went about my business. When I returned to the store a week later, they were long gone. 
However, I am the proud owner of these salt and pepper shakers, which I bought after letting those lamps slip away. I have an affinity for a specific kind of Chinese "look." I am not a fan of the literal. Rather, I adore the splashy figurines of the '30s, '40s and '50s, particularly those made in occupied Japan. Clearly, they are not representational. But that is what makes me love them. It's kind of like when Jennifer Jones, in "Love is a Many Splendored Thing" in 1955, was supposed to be Dr. Han Suyin, a Eurasian woman. Did anyone ever look less Chinese -- or more beautiful -- in a cheongsam than her?  
 I rest my case.
In fact, this chalkware piece that I got years ago kind of reminds me of the inimitable Mizz Jones. It even has blue eyes.  (I love Asian-themed chalkware, natch). 
I still hanker for a kitschy Asian lamp. This one may just fit the bill (only $32 on Etsy). These pseudo-Chinese figurines are so ridiculous, I am fully aware. But it's like Diana Vreeland said, "A little bad taste is like a splash of paprika. We all need a splash of bad taste. It's hearty, it's healthy, it's physical."


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