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Unusual Japanese Metal Vase - Dragon, Turtle, Elephants

Unusual Japanese Metal Vase - Dragon, Turtle, Elephants
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I want to say "bronze" in describing this. But I really wonder if it might not be the ultimate in artillery shell art (in which case it would be brass.) With a somewhat naive, mingei aspect, a dragon rises dramatically from the surface of the cylindrical vessel to which the writhing body is joined. Among chiseled clouds, the detailed dragon with loose fitting whiskers hovers above an active sea with minogame turtle emerging onto repousse rockery. The waves and other details also strongly chiseled. All resting upon a cylindrical band with four elephant head form feet with chiseled details. A key pattern is engraved into the circumference of the foot and the top of the vase. The whole is darkly patinated save for areas intended to resemble gold splashes and sealed against oxidation. This may be the ultimate in unusual shell art and demonstrates the artistic Japanese creative genius with diverse, available materials. As shell art (or trench art), it could be as early as the first few years of the 20th century, but almost certainly first quarter. Height: 12 1/8 in.

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