Sunday, March 20, 2011

The object #26 Japanese porcelain vase

This was a wedding gift. Possibly one of the most awkwardly given gifts ever, but nevertheless, a cherished possession.

When Ray and I were married I was working in an upscale furniture store in Boise, Idaho. My boss, the owner of the store, told me I could select something from the store as his gift to us. He was also the guy who told me not to marry a school teacher (which Ray was at the time) because I would never have a nice house. He told me a price limit and said it could not be something utilitarian. He said he wanted me to choose something  that I found beautiful and would keep forever. What I really wanted, and we needed, was a lamp, but that was too useful to fit his parameters for this gift. 

So I chose this vase. We had recently gotten a pair of them in the store and I really was quite taken by this beautiful piece. And, I need to disclose, that in the back of my mind I thought it would be a beautiful lamp and had plans to take it to someone who could turn it into one for me. Obviously we never did that. We spent some money we got as a wedding gift on a lamp we found on our honeymoon. Instead this beautiful porcelain piece has traveled with us through apartments and houses for the past 40 years and I love it more now than I did in the beginning.

It is about 18" tall and sits on a wooden stand. The color continues to inspire me. It is the color of life. The pattern is lovely. The shape is elegant and strong. It is the essence of Japanese design. And it makes me think of all the beauty the Japanese have created over their long and rich history. Porcelains like these were being produced in Japan long before Columbus discovered America and they were treasures, carried to Europe, to grace the palaces of European royalty.

Yesterday, my blogging friend, Judy, commented that she wondered why more bloggers have not written about the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. I can only speak for myself, but I cannot add anything useful or enlightening or helpful in the face of tragedy on such a scale. To try would be pitifully insignificant. I suppose we are all struggling to take it in—absorbing the photos, the anecdotes of heroism, the continuing fears of nuclear fallout. We hasten to find small ways to help. We marvel and gulp at the dignity and civility of the Japanese people's response and pray that their vast technical knowledge and remarkable work ethic will somehow save the day. And we hope that the rest of the world can somehow help. But it is all too big for words. I am trying to have faith that a time will come when, once again, the mention of Japan will lead our thoughts to things beautiful and life-affirming, not death and devastation.


  1. Lovely vase and lovely post. I appreciate your hesitancy to write about the Japan crisis. I felt that way this morning posting in my blog. The spectre of the tragedy haunted each paragraph, but it was almost like I couldn't look directly at it. Thank you, Terry.

  2. Anonymous3:17 PM

    What a stunning vase!
    You may be interested in the blog post I read this morning. It's written by a Canadian woodblock printer living in Japan. He makes many of the points that my son (who has also lived in Japan) has made to me. The article is insightful and thoughtful. Well worth reading. You'll find it at -

    Rhonda in Dubbo, Australia

  3. So well said. I haven't been able to write on my blog about it although I've tweeted a little and tried to help raise money. You wrote so well it makes me think I still am at allow for words because I couldn't have said it half as well.

  4. Lovely vase, lovely new look.

    And I totally agree about the Japan tragedy unfolding. It's unbearably sad and I can't think of anything to say beyond that. I think I tend to deal with these big things privately, also, and it feels too personal to talk about my donations in such a public way.

  5. Nance7:39 PM

    Rhonda's link (above) to the woodblock printer's blog is a welcome and interesting perspective not offered by the evening news. It does not minimize the tragedy in Japan, but gives a unique glimpse of a calmer view.

  6. Anonymous6:05 AM

    Your comments about the tsunami in Japan are right on!! You've expressed exactly how I feel. And I love your beautiful vase.

  7. Anonymous6:58 AM

    such eloquent words with the vase as a standard....matching the incredible grace of the Japanese people. Thank you.
    missy from the bayou

  8. Beautiful post.

    The vase has always been a favorite of mine. But, this is the first time I have heard the story of its acquisition. The story fits the dude at the store for sure.

  9. lovely vase...
    and well said about Japan tragedy....
    eloquent as usual you are!