Probably Korean / Two Mukozuke Dishes / Momoyama to Edo period, late 16th-early 17th centuryProbably Korean
Two Mukozuke Dishes
Momoyama to Edo period, late 16th-early 17th century

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Creator Qualifier: Probably
Creator Nationality: Asian; Far East Asian; Korean
Creator Name-CRT: Probably Korean
Title: Two Mukozuke Dishes
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, Saga and Nagasaki prefectures
Object Type: Decorative Arts and Utilitarian Objects
Classification Term: Ceramics
Materials and Techniques: Stoneware painted with underglaze iron brown (Karatsu ware)
Dimensions: Each 4 1/4 x 2 1/4 x 2 1/4 in. (10.8 x 5.7 x 5.7 cm)
AMICA Contributor: Asia Society
Owner Location: New York, New York, USA
ID Number: 1979.229.1-2
Credit Line: Asia Society: The Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection
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. Thesetwo tall, narrow dishes were used for serving eel and certain other side dishes during the kaiseki meal. Known as mukozuke because they were placed at the back of the serving tray, their shapes hid the tasty but unsightly treats.

These small dishes are examples of Karatsu ware, the ceramic produced near the city of Karatsu on the southern island of Kyushu. Karatsu wares have a refined stoneware body and a thin gray glaze. Pieces such as these two dishes that are painted with an iron-brown pigment are classified as Decorated or Painted Karatsu (e-garatsu). Bamboo is painted on the front of one of the dishes; water plantain decorates the other. Both have a pattern of overlapping triangles painted on the top part of their backs, which may reflect the impact of Mino wares on the decoration of Karatsu wares, since this design is also commonly found in Mino types.

The Karatsu kilns were founded around mid-16th century, probably by Lord Hata, the provincial ruler of Karatsu who had established strong trade contacts with Korea. It was in Karatsu where a multichambered climbing kiln and a kick-wheel were first used in Japan; these innovations reflect the impact of advanced Korean technology on Japanese ceramics.

Related Document Description: Asia Society. Handbook of the Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection. New York: Asia Society, [1981], p. 102.
AMICA ID: ASIA.1979.229.1-2
AMICA Library Year: 1998
Media Metadata Rights: Copyright, Asia Society

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