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Japan

Pair of vases c.1880-1882

Brass (copper alloy), gold, silver, shibuichi and copper, partly patinated | 51.0 x 28.0 x 28.0 cm (whole object) | RCIN 70174

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For many centuries, cast bronze was used mostly for Buddhist ritual items and utensils for tea gatherings. However, after the Emperor Meiji prohibited the samurai from carrying swords in 1876, many metalworkers turned to creating decorative objects. This piece, with its subtly patinated surface and inlaid metals, was associated with the imperial household – as shown by the chrysanthemum mon on the neck.