Monday, December 6, 2021

6th December 2021 -Tamamushi Beetle

A small itch at the back of my mind about the boxes of Japanese samples of plant dyes and minerals that had disappeared has been worrying me. Basically when I left the cottage for the boys to take over, I could not see where they had been put and it worried me. I knew they were somewhere in my blogs but did not know the right title I had put them under, till I thought of the Tamamushi beetle, and of course the search was over. 

The whole thing came up over the weekend, Lillie my granddaughter wanted to write about an 'artefact' for school.  There is her granny still into archaeology and Paul collector of everything under the sun so she asks me.  I have a file of Paul's  photos of his 'collection'. 

Little Japanese gods jostle for attention with Roman glass and Saxon weaving whorls. He had accumulated a great deal and I left it to his sons to take what they needed to pass on maybe to little Leo, Paul's grandson, and his Japanese inheritance.  Paul's study was a mass of stuff, handmade papers, reams of books on art, all very specialist, but what to do with them?
As both sons work in London, one is an artist and works for a gallery they seemed the best to work it all out.  I know they have been taking carloads up to town.

Though I love the living landscape, objects or artefacts seem to me lifeless and not being particularly house proud the thought of picking everything up to dust underneath never appeals.  My daughter when we were leaving the cottage swept up all the things on the windowsill in the kitchen to remind me of the life once lived.  So now I have a little Japanese god, a butter dish and an incense bowl sitting here, plus a small wooden box that looks very reliquary and take able to school.

Inheritance or is it memorabilia? Can we store it via the computer I wonder.  There is only one problem, the transfer of the file to Lillie, here I am working with my big computer and typeface whereas the rest of the family work on tiny Apple phones, with seemingly a dozen things working at once and my email demands ZIP for files.


  1. Those Japanese dyestuffs look like absolute treasure and I hope they have gone where they will be treasured by Paul's sons, although perhaps they are Museum pieces really.

    I hope that Lillie's article starts a lively discussion.

    1. They should be in a museum I think, with the proper translations for the dyestuffs. I know one painting came in that used finely ground pearls, it was on its way to an European auction house and needed the embedded signatures deciphered by a computer expert. Lillie has started me thinking of course, only got put on the Whatapps this weekend for the 'family emergency group' ;)

  2. Those beetles do not survive in their full glory, unfortunately. I found a beautiful but dead dragon fly in someone's conservatory once, and took it home to dry out. It rotted. Maybe it wasn't dry enough. Still, its colour comes from the crystalline structure within the wings which just refracts the light, so in theory it could be preserved.

    1. I think Japan over the centuries did not have as many materials to work with, for instance like wool from sheep, so much of their craft work is very specialised and uses natural things like insects. There is a preponderancy of blue from the indigo in cloth and brown in their pottery. It is a shame we cannot capture the beautiful colour of flowers and insects, but that is the difference between life and decay.


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