"Kaen-doki" ("Fire flame earthenwares") are found in various part of Japan, and are estimated to have been made 4000 to 5000 years ago. Some fine specimen of these vessels with magnificent ornamentation are registered as National Treasures of Japan, and as such, are the oldest members of this genre.
Several years ago, I had an opportunity to observe one particularly fine fire flame vessel in Tokamachi . I was impressed by the abstract expression of the fire flames figures.
Nobody is sure that these patterns actually represent fire flames, given that there were no letters to record and convey the significance in those period. Yet, as one admires the ornamentation, one is brought into the strange realm of symbolization of the dancing flames, now twisted and now straight, ever changing, but remaining eternal in essence.
I can almost imagine myself watching the fire flames at night in those ancient times. Surrounded by the menacing darkness, the fire flames must have appeared to be the symbol of our earthly existence itself.
A fire flame earthenware.