Kodo Arts Fall Show is October 4-12

Just twice a year, Kodo Arts Japanese Antiques in Nevada City opens it doors for the public purchase their exotic treasures and Japanese antiques. Kodo’s Fall show on October 4-12 features a wide array of of old shop signs from the late 1800s. Known as ‘Kanban,’ these signs are hand carved in wood.

Kanban are the traditional shop signs of old Japan. During the Edo and Meiji periods, C.1700-1912, large areas of the major cities were filled with rows of shops from which almost every conceivable form of trade was carried out.

The shops were small, crowded and similar in appearance, so the merchants were forced to advertise their wares through the use of banners, lanterns and shop signs. Signs with pleasing designs played an important role in catching the attention of passers-by and attracting potential customers.

Visible from the street, the signs had to advertise the shop’s products in an original and appealing manner that would be immediately comprehensible to the public.

Many were heavily gilded so they would stand out at night when shops were lit only with lantern light. Kanban were often decorated with bold patterns and characters advertising the wares of the shop, the owner, and the unique qualities of the products sold.

Though many of these signs were simple rectangular shapes, others resembled the objects associated with the wares sold in the shop and were elaborately carved and painted.

Kodo Arts will have a sake shop sign that is in the shape of a sake keg plus many more almost art deco shop signs.

The workmanship and lush gilding on these striking Kanban are indicative of the quality of craftsmanship and the originality demanded of the carvers of shop signs in late 19th and early 20th century Japan.

This Kanban is an important example of Japanese folk art equaling the quality of those found in most of the major mingei folk art collections or illustrated in reference books and catalogs about Japanese folk art.

The Shishu or gold thread embroidery of of koi swimming up a waterfall shown above is based on Buddha’s teachings. If the koi makes it over the top, it turns into a dragon and resides in the celestial realm as a protector.

The show will be held at the Kodo Arts Japanese Antiques Warehouse at 571 Seals Ave, Nevada City, CA from October 4 -12, 2014. Hours: 10am -6pm daily. 530-478-0812. For more information, visit Kodo-Arts.com.

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