11 January 2010

pocket full o' spark

'Modern man, in his well-lit house, knows nothing of the beauty of gold; but those who lived in the dark houses of the past were not merely captivated by its beauty, they also knew its practical value; for gold, in these dim rooms, must have served the function of a reflector. Their use of gold leaf and gold dust was not mere extravagance. Its reflective properties were put to use as a source of illumination. Silver and other metals quickly lose their gloss, but gold retains its brilliance indefinitely to light the darkness of the room. This is why gold was held in such incredibly high esteem'

Tanazaki- In Praise of Shadows.

Japanese flint-lock fire-starters. Iron with gold inlay. I think the top one is forged iron and the bottom one cast. (I'd imagine cast iron to be difficult to inlay, as it is hard and brittle, but im always getting it wrong with iron!) pics via; (they aint my hands)

 Also; interesting vesta collection over at Malcom E's.


  1. hey, a new drawing!
    and nice comparision between tanizaki and the object!
    many greetings.


    (* we know your hands are usually purple)

  2. what a beautiful object. and a wonderful tanazaki quote, a stunning book, that is. to be treasured. i did a quote too over on ii-ne, the one when he is in the waranjiya restaurant and requests candles to replace the electric lamps, so he can better appreciate the lacquerware. beautiful stuff.

    i liked seeing the gold folding screens in the dark recesses of old houses in kyoto after knowing about tanazaki - only then i appreciated the role of muted, golden, reflected light in the shadows of old architecture.

  3. yes- ill have to buy the book. He sounds pretty grumpy tho'-
    he predicted that future generations, once transport systems had gone underground or into the sky, would have to invent new ways to torture the elderly!

  4. really? now that is a pretty great kind of grumpy, actually! like those old fellows and ladies on that 'let's hear the sometimes amusing rants of wealthy, grumpy, old, moderately well-known in the UK only' show.

    yes, reading his book is like a full-on time warp in more ways than one. he gets right stuck in to westernisation. but love his praise of the dark, dirty and worn, just love it.