Plant ID forum: Japanese Plant from Art Object

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Sarasota, FL
MementoMori
Mar 17, 2018 6:36 PM CST
Hi all,

Longtime hobby is Japanese metalwork. With retirement about 1 year away, I am getting more into gardening with the wife.

Attached is a piece of Japanese metalwork from around 1625. The previous Japanese owner thought the theme was 'Geranium', but that seems very wrong to me. Given the presence of flowing water, I tried to identify it. The best I could do was Japanese Wasabi as per here [ah, newbie not permitted to post link. Please just google Japanese Wasabi plant images] , but don't feel confident that is correct. Anyone able to guide me to a more accurate identification?


Thumb of 2018-03-18/MementoMori/cac346

I tip my hat to you.
Name: Porkpal
Richmond, TX
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Keeper of Poultry Farmer Roses Raises cows
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porkpal
Mar 17, 2018 7:39 PM CST
I can't help with the plant ID, but I am curious about the use of the piece of metal work. Do you know?
Porkpal
Name: Leslieray Hurlburt
Sacramento California (Zone 9b)
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HamiltonSquare
Mar 17, 2018 7:57 PM CST
How big is it. Perhaps a sword guard. Photo of the whole thing front and back may help in the answer about the plant pictured. Very interesting. There is a member here that is growing wasabi not sure where that thread is.....Just back from the worm hole of the web. Google -Tsuba with design of hollyhocks at the museum of fine arts. Tsuba is a Japanese sword guard.
Hamilton Square Garden, Historic City Cemetery, Sacramento California.
[Last edited by HamiltonSquare - Mar 17, 2018 8:32 PM (+)]
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Sarasota, FL
MementoMori
Mar 17, 2018 8:16 PM CST
It was the crossguard to a Japanese sword. During the relatively peaceful Edo period they took on more of a decorative purpose of expression. Think of them as man jewelry equivalent to swiss watches. The maker of this one was closely associated with tea ceremony, so the aesthetic is restrained or relatively minimalist.
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
Mar 17, 2018 9:12 PM CST
It could be a Wasabi plant - it sure looks like one in a very stylized way. The hilt guards were interchangable and sometimes reversible. I have several that have Christian markings on one side - they are 200 years newer than yours. Smiling
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

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Sarasota, FL
MementoMori
Mar 18, 2018 11:01 AM CST
The hilt guards did have all levels of meaning during the Edo period. The warrior class generally being forbidden to wear jewelry of any sort, the guards became a favorite place for circumventing the rules. It can be quite the undercurrent of the art and philosophy of that near 300 year period. I must confess that I don't know much about the Christian ones. There was a very authoritative article published on them by a collector out in Nevada or Arizona, I believe by Mr. Geyer.

The Japanese owner of this one published it as 'Geranium', which I could not see. This morning my wife provided me with this image of African geranium. Ironically, the owner works in or with an African Art Museum. He may be seeing what is closest to his own daily art dive.

I don't know what prompted me to look into it more than curiosity. The rendering is more folksy Korean than Japanese, but then the Japanese had just invaded Korea at least twice and were bringing back much in the way of tea bowls, food, cooks, art, etc.. I enjoyed an article by Zoë Templeton on the Cultivation and Culture of Wasabi and been struck by this second attached image. I lean towards thinking of it as wasabi formerly known as wild ginger. As a foreign exchange student long ago, I had fresh grated wasabi given to me at the dinner table. My tolerance for spice is much higher now than then, but that was still a unique kick to the head. It was nothing like the horseradish paste we call wasabi on USA sushi. I've very rarely had it since.

I lean towards it being Wasabi, but am still relatively new to learning in this area. My ability to distinguish is still very crude at this point.
I welcome anyone that might provide further insight.
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Name: Porkpal
Richmond, TX
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Keeper of Poultry Farmer Roses Raises cows
Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
porkpal
Mar 18, 2018 11:40 AM CST
I am enjoying the background history. Thank you!
Porkpal
Sarasota, FL
MementoMori
Mar 20, 2018 1:20 PM CST
Thanks Gardeners.
For now I will go with the Wasabi hypothesis, though still hoping for something a bit spot on.

I inherited a Civil War pistol that no one could identify for 15 years, until one day a Frenchman sharing a hobby nailed the gun ID 'smack on' perfect. Sometimes you just must be patient.

Name: Lin
Florida (Zone 9b)

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plantladylin
Mar 20, 2018 1:46 PM CST
Three of the leaves depicted in the metal do resemble those of Wasabi (Eutrema japonicum) but I'm not sure what the other two leaves might be.

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Name: Sherry Austin
Santa Cruz, CA (Zone 9a)
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Henhouse
Mar 20, 2018 10:19 PM CST
I'm going to throw Houttuynia cordata into the mix.. It's asian, and grows in water or boggy places, and has medicinal purposes. One of it's medicinal uses is healing wounds, which seems appropriate for a sword.
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Name: Leslieray Hurlburt
Sacramento California (Zone 9b)
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HamiltonSquare
Mar 20, 2018 11:12 PM CST
Here's one thats seems appropriate. Fuki. The flowers on Petasides hybridus look most like the tsuba or is it a necklace now.

http://www.missouribotanicalga...

Hamilton Square Garden, Historic City Cemetery, Sacramento California.
[Last edited by HamiltonSquare - Mar 20, 2018 11:41 PM (+)]
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Sarasota, FL
MementoMori
Mar 26, 2018 1:12 PM CST
Thank you for the additional replies.
I knew of Fuki [Butterbur] thanks to wife having tried to grow it once, but totally forgot to consider it as an option.

When I went looking for other similar examples in art, I came across a set of gold menuki for sale in Japan on Yahoo!Japan. I don't believe I can post the link. The menuki were very similar in design, though include the root.
The description is 山葵, which translates directly as Mountain Hollyhock, but is know in Japan as 'Wasabi'.

I lean more towards this being Wild Ginger, aka Mountain Hollyhock, best known nowadays as Wasabi.
I hope those cultivators in the west of the USA can bring it to market, as it certainly is a different taste than the green dyed horseradish we know with american and Cali-mexican sushi.

springfield MO area (Zone 6a)
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Frillylily
Mar 30, 2018 11:23 PM CST
I kept thinking it looks like some type of grain, but the leaves do not match any grains I found. Closest is Buckwheat, but I don't feel comfortable w it either really. Wasabi is the closest thing, but the tall grain-like ones don't really fit as well as I'd like. I was looking at what the stems were growing OUT of, it looks like waves/water? that made me think rice. But then again the leaves are wrong for that.
springfield MO area (Zone 6a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Identifier
Frillylily
Mar 30, 2018 11:36 PM CST
http://www.shibuiswords.com/in...

this dude has a book of them, googled japanese sword guard and came up with all sorts of things

springfield MO area (Zone 6a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Identifier
Frillylily
Mar 30, 2018 11:43 PM CST
Googled wasabi and seen lots of images of it growing in flooded gravel beds, so seems like it can practically grow in water, which may explain the 'waves' at the bottom. The edges of wasabi are not smooth, so that would coincide with the textured edge on the artwork of the leaves.

Name: greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
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greene
Mar 31, 2018 3:14 AM CST
My guess would be a rice stalk and a lotus leaf just ready to unfurl.
http://www.pbase.com/image/570...
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Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
Apr 2, 2018 3:03 PM CST
The mystery may be solved. I sent a photo of your tsuba to DD#1 - she is fluent in Japanese and because of her profession, is also quite knowledgeable about ancient mon and other Japanese designs.

She thinks its probably a Hollyhock and grain motif associated with the Tokugawa family. I've attached the information she sent me.

Thumb of 2018-04-02/DaisyI/dfcea2
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http://ancientpoint.com/inf/94...

Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

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Name: Leslieray Hurlburt
Sacramento California (Zone 9b)
The WITWIT Badge Region: California Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Xeriscape Native Plants and Wildflowers Salvias
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HamiltonSquare
Apr 2, 2018 7:09 PM CST
Hollyhock was the very first thing suggested.
Hamilton Square Garden, Historic City Cemetery, Sacramento California.
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
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DaisyI
Apr 2, 2018 7:22 PM CST
I guess you were right on. I missed it before but.... Sorry!
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

Webmaster: osnnv.org
Name: Leslieray Hurlburt
Sacramento California (Zone 9b)
The WITWIT Badge Region: California Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Xeriscape Native Plants and Wildflowers Salvias
Foliage Fan Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Birds Bee Lover Hummingbirder Butterflies
Image
HamiltonSquare
Apr 2, 2018 7:38 PM CST
Nothing to be sorry about. Just mentioned it because the OP nixed that and every other suggestion but the one being looked for. The much rarer ginger design. Shrug!
Hamilton Square Garden, Historic City Cemetery, Sacramento California.

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