Ceramics in Mainland Southeast Asia:
Collections in the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery

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Tea bowl

  • Stoneware with oxidized celadon glaze
  • 8.3 x 14.1 cm
  • Huiyang ware
  • 15th century, Ming dynasty
  • Origin: Huiyang kiln, Guangdong province, China
  • Gift of Charles Lang Freer
  • F1898.41


Tea-bowl, tall, fluted; heavy foot. Gold lacquer repair.
Clay: dense, grayish-white.
Glaze: deep orange-yellow, oxidized, finely crackled, with faint green overflow.
Decoration: on outside, carved in appearance of chrysanthemum petals.

Curatorial Remarks

1. (C.L. Freer) Fine.

2. (E.S. Morse, 1921) Kyoto.

3. (H.E. Buckman, 1965) The Envelope File, which has now been destroyed, contained the following: "Matsuki thinks by Mokubei of Kioto. End of 16th century."

4. (Louise A. Cort, 1982) For information in ningyo-de tea bowls, refer to F1897.11.

5. (Koyama Fujio, 1957) Chinese Ningyode type.

6. (L.A. Cort, 1984) This bowl comes so close in appearance to certain 15–16th century export-grade Chinese celadon bowls found in Japan (Nihon shutto no Chugoku toji no. 262) that it must be a direct copy. Koyama considered it to be Chinese. The piece has misfired drastically, but the glaze where thick in the incised lotus-petal motif maintains an olive town. Compare F1897.11, a Japanese version of a closely related Chinese type.

7. (L.A. Cort, 1986) A green-glazed bowl of the same type is in the Hoyt collection, Boston Museum of Fine Arts (1952 catalogue, no. 404; 50.1594).

Handling this pot after an interval, I am struck by its weight, which seems unlike Kyoto bowls and kindred to other Chinese green-glazed wares of Lung-ch'uan-related kilns.

For the use of ningyo-de tea bowls in the Japanese tea ceremony, see Nezu Bijutsukan 1985, 113–115 (Japanese) and III (English), no. 11. See also F1911.365.

Attribution changed from Japanese, Yamashiro, Kyoto, to Chinese, Ming dynasty, 15th–16th century. Added Decoration.

Nezu Bijutsukan. 1985. Kanzō chawan hyakkasen (One Hundred tea bowls from the Nezu collection). Tokyo: Nezu Bijutsukan.

8. (L.A. Cort, 1991) A bowl of this type, with "crackled and glassy olive green glaze partially covering rounded foot" and chrysanthemum-petal decoration, is published as from the Huiyang kilns in Guangdong province, 16th century (The Oriental Ceramic Society of the Philippines, ed. 1991, 57, no. 3.3). The Huiyang kiln was one of several in Guangdong producing Longquan-type celadon in the Ming period (ibid., 37).

The Oriental Ceramic Society of the Philippines, ed. 1991. Chinese and Southeast Asian Greenware found in the Philippines. Manila: The Oriental Ceramic Society of the Philippines.

9. (Louise Cort, 29 July 2004) In an article (Inagaki 1992), Inagaki Masahiro proposes on the basis of documentary evidence from tea ceremony diaries that Chinese bowls of the type represented by F1898.41—with incised abbreviated petals carved on the exterior—might be the bowls known to Japanese tea practitioners of the sixteenth century and later as "Juko celadon," named after the tea master Murata Juko (1423–1502). The type of southern Chinese bowl with incised decoration usually termed "Juko celadon" is represented in the Freer collection by F1897.83–84. (The bowls F1896.90 and F1898.27 were described by their vendor, Yamanaka, as "Juko celadon," whereas Yamanaka described F1897.83–84 as "Korean.") The most reliably identified bowl of that type is "Osozakura," now in the Nezu Institute of Fine Arts, and once in the collection of the daimyo Matsudaira Fumai (1751–1818), who recorded it as being associated with Juko or his taste (Nezu Bijutsukan 1985, no. 9). Such bowls have incised combing on the exterior.

Inagaki noted the description of the "Juko celadon" bowl owned by Sen no Rikyu (1522–1592) contained in the tea connoisseur's text known as Yamanoue Soji Ki (1588–89): the bowl is described as "red with a purplish cast" and as having twenty-seven blade marks. Tea diary entries from 1566 and 1567 record seeing bowls with "twenty-seven blade marks" and "twenty-six blade marks," suggesting an established type. One entry also mentions the character fuku stamped in the interior of the bowl and notes that the bowl was heavy.

Inagaki contends that these descriptions do not agree with the traits of the bowls commonly known as "Juko celadon." He even suggests that all such bowls were excavated in Japan in the Edo period and were an aspect of a popular interest in excavated objects during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. An apocryphal story preserved with one such bowl in the Nezu collection (Nezu Bijutsukan 1985, no. 8) tells of Juko's finding such a bowl in the earth during a visit to Dazaifu in Kyushu, along with other broken Chinese ceramics; in other words, the Edo period interest in excavated Chinese ceramics (and awareness that Dazaifu was an abundant source of such treasures) was projects backward onto Juko.

Inagaki notes that numerous bowls of the type represented by F1898.41 were excavated from archaeological sites within the old city of Sakai, a major center for commerce and tea-drinking in the sixteenth century. In other words, they were in use at the same time that bowls seemingly of the same type were documented in tea ceremony diaries. He proposed that such bowls were imported into Japan in the mid-sixteenth century, for the most part, but possibly within Juko's lifetime. But their popularity did not last into the Edo period, when taste changed.

Inagaki suggests that the bowls with incised combing (such as F1897.83 and F1897.84) correspond to a bowl mentioned in a 1586 record as a "Senko bowl," to the taste of someone by that name.

Depending on the way of counting, the Freer tea bowl F1898.41 may be said to have 57 individual vertical grooves on its exterior. If these are counted as united "petals," however, the number is 28 (and a half!), roughly corresponding to the sixteenth century tea records.

The bowl F1898.64 appears to be stained by burial and might have been among the bowls that Inagaki alleges were excavated in the Edo period and put into use as tea bowls.

The bowl F1898.90 shows much hard wear and abrasion on the interior, and it is questionable whether it was ever used as a tea bowl. It is another candidate for an excavated bowl.

Possibly the Yamanaka use of "Juko" for the coarse bowls F1896.90 and F1898.27 does reflect Inagaki's alleged Edo period usage of the term for excavated bowls.

Inagaki Masahiro. 1992. "Futatsu no Juko chawan [Two Juko tea bowls]." Kansai Kinsei Kokogaku Kenkyu II: 29–41.

Nezu Bijutsukan (Nezu Institute of Fine Arts). 1985. Kanzō chawan hyakkasen (One Hundred tea bowls from the Nezu collection). Tokyo: Nezu Bijutsukan.

10. (Louise Cort, 14 December 2004) Changed Medium from Glazed clay to Stoneware with oxidized celadon glaze. Changed Title to Tea bowl. To Ware added Longquan-type.

Celadon bowls of this type were excavated in the Aramaki-honmura site in Yamanashi prefecture in 1933; they were part of a cache of 39 Chinese (including blue-and-white porcelain and celadon) and Japanese ceramics buried in a large Tokoname-ware jar. The Mino and Tokoname wares associated with the burial date to the second half of the 15th century (Ono 1981, 49, pl.1).

Ono Masatoshi. 1981. "Yamanashi-ken Higashi Yatsushiro-gun Ichinomiya-cho Aramaki Honmura shutsudo no tōjiki(Ceramics found in Aramaki-honmura, Ichinomiya-cho, Higashi-Yatsushiro-gun, Yamanashi Prefecture)." Bōeki Tōji Kenkyū (Trade Ceramics Studies) 1: 47–55 (Japanese), 47 (English summary).

11. (Louise Cort, 18 July 2005) In the Dana collection sale catalogue, no. 31, this was described as a "tea-bowl. Fluted, yellow glaze. Ningio de: end of 16th century." Freer starred it and noted "Fine." The price was $15.00.

12. (Louise Cort, 21 October 2005) According to archaeologist and ceramics specialist Morimoto Asako, Fukuoka, who is familiar with Chinese ceramics excavated in Japan, this bowl is Longquan ware and probably dates to the mid 15th century.

13. (Louise Cort, 17 January 2006) Changed Date from 15th–16th century to 15th century.

14. (Louise Cort, 3 February 2008) A bowl of this type, with standard green glaze, is among the Longquan ceramics recovered from the Pandanan shipwreck in the Philippines. The bowl, now in the collection of the National Museum, Manila (acc. no. Pn2218, h. 8.8 cm), is published in Brown 2004, pls. 49, g, 8.

Brown, Roxanna Maude. 2004. "The Ming Gap and Shipwreck Ceramics in Southeast Asia." Ph.D. Dissertation, Department of Art History, University of California, Los Angeles.

15. (Louise Cort, 14 May 2009) Coarse bowls of this type, probably from kilns in Guangdong province rather than in Longquan, were excavated from graves in Lam Dong province in the Central Highlands of Vietnam (Bùi Chí Hoàng et al. 2000, 199, 202, 205–206).

Bùi Chí Hoàng, Vũ Nhẩt Nguyễn, and Phạm Hữu Thọ. 2000. Những Sưu Tập Gốm Sứ Ở Lâm Đồng (The Collections of Ceramics in Lam Dong). Đà Lạt: Sở Văn Hhóa Thông Tin Lâm Đồng [Lam Dong Ministry of Culture and Information].

16. (Louise Cort, 11 July 2011) A bowl of this type, on view in an exhibition of export ceramics from the gift of Dr. Ye Ip, in the Palace Museum, Taipei, last month, was identified as from the Huiyang kiln in Guangdong and dated to the 15th century.

17. (Louise Cort, 12 January 2014) This "celadon" bowl is distinguished by its oxidized glaze. In connection with the recent special exhibition on Ido tea bowls at the Nezu Museum, curator Nishida Hiroko exhibited a larger bowl (termed a hachi) with mold-impressed figures on the interior--the so-called ningyo-de type--and warm-toned, oxidized celadon glaze, for its resemblance to the hemispherical shape and tall foot characterizing the o-ido ("large ido") type. She dated the ningyo-de bowl to the 16th century.

Nezu Museum. Ido-jawan. Tokyo, 2013.

18. (Louise Cort, 25 January 2014) A bowl of this type was excavated from the Ichijodani site, castle town of the Asakura domain in Fukui prefecture until their defeat and the destruction of the siteby Oda Nobunaga's forces in 1573 (Tokyo Kokuritsi Hakubutsukan 1978, plate 35.

Tokyo Kokuritsu Hakubutsukan, ed. Nihon shutsudo no Chugoku toji (Tokyo: Tokyo Bijutsu, 1978).

Changed Origin from Zhejiang or Guangdong province to Guangdong province, Huiyang kiln. Changed Ware from Longquan-style ware to Huiyang ware.

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