Japan, Muromachi period / Storage Jar, Echizen Ware / 15th CenturyJapan, Muromachi period
Storage Jar, Echizen Ware
15th Century

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Creator Nationality: Asian; Far East Asian; Japanese
Creator Dates/Places: Japan
Creator Active Place: Japan
Creator Name-CRT: Japan, Muromachi period
Title: Storage Jar, Echizen Ware
Title Type: Primary
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: 1400
Creation End Date: 1499
Creation Date: 15th Century
Object Type: Decorative Arts and Utilitarian Objects
Classification Term: Ceramic
Materials and Techniques: stoneware with natural ash glaze
Dimensions: Overall: 49.8cm
Inscriptions: Incised artisan's mark
AMICA Contributor: The Cleveland Museum of Art
Owner Location: Cleveland, Ohio, USA
ID Number: 1989.70
Credit Line: John L. Severance Fund
Rights: http://www.clemusart.com/museum/disclaim2.html
Context: Since the 1960s Japanese archaeologists and ceramic scholars have excavated an impressive number of production sites throughout Japan. Among these, more than a hundred of varying size and complexity have been identified as from medieval times (twelfth to sixteenth centuries), revealing the presence of an active ceramic production and distribution network throughout the provinces. Japan's economy was primarily focused on agriculture, especially rice and other grains, and clay storage jars played an integral role in that production system with its numerous regional centers. Echizen, a fertile area along the Sea of Japan coast, emerged as a major pottery center in the fourteenth century. Utilitarian vessels for residential as well as agricultural needs were increasingly in demand, and distant ceramic production sources could not always keep pace with local demand reliably and economically. Individual artisan-farmers thus became the first producers of Echizen's earliest ceramics, succeeded by true, full-time village or regional potters in due course. By the fourteenth century ceramic production became centered in a village to the west of modern Fukui, where substantial deposits of high-quality clay material and an abundant wood supply existed. This large jar is constructed from piling successive bands of clay on top of one another. Each section was built from clay coils pinched together by hand to form a wall, paddled with a wooden spatula, and allowed to dry before the next section was then added on top. The interior wall was paddled as well, then smoothed to help compact the clay fabric and seal it before the neck and mouth were added using a potter's wheel. The vitality of the jar's robust shape is, no doubt, due in large part to this vigorous construction technique. The rich lustrous surface of the vessel is the result of its long (perhaps two weeks) firing in a kiln: wood ash present in the combustive atmosphere of the kiln settled on the jar's surface, accumulated, and then became molten, covering theentire vessel. In this way it became "sealed," the ideal container for protecting fragile grains and grain seeds from moisture and rotting. The abundance of natural glaze and the richness of its palette is extraordinary here and, as in most medieval wares, is fortuitous. While the Echizen farmer and potter no doubt held its durability as an object of everyday use in highest esteem, later generations have come to admire its natural, rugged beauty. M.R.C.
AMICA ID: CMA_.1989.70
AMICA Library Year: 1998
Media Metadata Rights: Copyright, The Cleveland Museum of Art

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