Japanese / Water Jar for Tea Ceremony / Momoyama to Edo period, late 16th-early 17th centuryJapanese
Water Jar for Tea Ceremony
Momoyama to Edo period, late 16th-early 17th century

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Creator Nationality: Asian; Far East Asian; Japanese
Creator Name-CRT: Japanese
Title: Water Jar for Tea Ceremony
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: 1567
Creation End Date: 1633
Creation Date: Momoyama to Edo period, late 16th-early 17th century
Creation Place: Japan, Mie Prefecture
Object Type: Decorative Arts and Utilitarian Objects
Classification Term: Ceramics
Materials and Techniques: Stoneware with impressed design under glaze (Iga ware)
Dimensions: 9 1/2 x 7 1/4 x 7 1/4 in. (24.1 x 18.4 x 18.4 cm) with cover
AMICA Contributor: Asia Society
Owner Location: New York, New York, USA
ID Number: 1979.224a-b
Credit Line: Asia Society: The Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection
Rights: http://www.asiasociety.org
Context: The development of certain types of Japanese ceramics, such as Iga and Mino wares, and the use of ceramics for serving food and eating are linked to the evolution of the tea ceremony (chanoyu) in Japan. The drinking of powdered green tea (matcha) whipped with boiling water came from China to Japan at the end of the 12th century together with the Zen sect of Buddhism and a certain complex of cultural practices, philosophical pursuits, and artistic styles. This tea was first used in Zen monasteries as an aid to meditation and as a part of formal gatherings. The drinking of this type of tea spread from Zen circles to the Japanese aristocracy, who organized formal tea ceremonies. The tea ceremonies also served as a means of displaying the host's treasures, which at first were primarily Chinese in origin and included refined ceramics as well as paintings, lacquers, and other objects. Over time, as the tea ceremony was redefined under the guidance of various tea masters, new tastes emerged, andeveryday Korean ceramics as well as stonewares produced in Japanese kilns began to be appreciated for their unpolished charms and used in the tea ceremony.

By the 16th century, Japanese ceramics were in great demand for use in both the tea ceremony andthe kaiseki meal served before the more formal type of tea ceremonies. In Japan, wood and lacquer had traditionally been used for dining, and the use of ceramics for the kaiseki meal and tea ceremony helped to spur their use in homes. This squarish jar, produced at the Iga kilns, illustrates the type of vessel used as a fresh-water container (mizusashi) during the tea ceremony. Water stored in this container is used for replenishing the tea kettle and cleaning the tea bowls. The shape of this jar is unusual among Iga fresh-water containers, which are generally round. An unevenly applied glaze has fired green in some places and brown or black in others; two lattice-patterned rectangles were impressed on two of the sides prior to the application of the glaze. Since the earliest Iga wares were not glazed, the use of glaze on this piece helps to date it to the early 17th century. The glazed cover on this jar may not be original--the colors of the glaze do not match those found on the body of the jar, and jars of this type generally had black lacquer lids. Fresh-water jars and flower vases were among the two most common products of the Iga kilns, and both were produced primarily for use in the tea ceremony.

The Iga kilns were located in Mie Prefecture. Kilns were probably established there in the 16th century, possibly under the patronage of Tsutsui Sadatsugu, who ruled the area from 1585 to 1608. Iga wares continued the tradition of stonewares begun at the Seto kilns during the Kamakura period (1185-1333). They are also closely related to the Shigaraki wares that were produced in nearby Shiga Prefecture and which were also used in the tea ceremony. The influential tea master Sen no Rikyu (1521-1591), who was noted for his understated tea ceremonies (known as wabicha), is often credited with the introduction of Iga wares to the tea ceremony. Iga wares are also closely affiliated with the style of tea favored by Furuta Oribe (1544-1615), a pupil of Rikyu who developed a more energetic, expressive, and individualistic style of tea. In his tea diary, Oribe, who is often credited with the experimentation in shapes and forms that mark Japanese tea wares in the late 16th and early 17th centuries, states that he used fresh-water containers and flower pots from Iga.

Related Document Description: Asia Society. Handbook of the Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection. New York: Asia Society, [1981], p. 100.
AMICA ID: ASIA.1979.224a-b
AMICA Library Year: 1998
Media Metadata Rights: Copyright, Asia Society

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