Tea bowl with reserve design of fans

Artist: Nonomura Ninsei (active ca. 1646-77)
Historical period(s)
Edo period, mid-17th century
Stoneware with black glaze, enamels over white glaze
H x Diam: 8.8 x 13.8 cm (3 7/16 x 5 7/16 in)
Japan, Kyoto prefecture, Kyoto, Omuro kiln
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view
Ceramic, Vessel

Tea bowl

Edo period (1615 - 1868), fan, Japan, Omuro ware, stoneware, tea

To 1898
Yamanaka & Company, to 1898 [1]

From 1898 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from Yamanaka & Company in 1898 [2]

From 1920
Freer Gallery of Art, gift of Charles Lang Freer in 1920 [3]


[1] See Original Pottery List, L. 592, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives. The majority of Charles Lang Freer’s purchases from Yamanaka & Company were made at its New York branch. Yamanaka & Company maintained branch offices, at various times, in Boston, Chicago, London, Peking, Shanghai, Osaka, Nara, and Kyoto. During the summer, the company also maintained seasonal locations in Newport, Bar Harbor, and Atlantic City.

[2] See note 1.

[3] The original deed of Charles Lang Freer's gift was signed in 1906. The collection was received in 1920 upon the completion of the Freer Gallery.

Previous Owner(s)

Yamanaka and Co. (C.L. Freer source)
Charles Lang Freer 1854-1919


Mino potters invented the technique for producing a lustrous black glaze on tea bowls by using iron tongs to extract the bowls from the kiln as soon as the glaze melted, rather than leaving them to cool in the kiln, where they would have turned brown. Recent research has discovered that Ninsei used the same technique for his black-glazed bowls. Ninsei's bowl is thinner and more delicately shaped than the robust Black Seto bowls from Mino. Ninsei used fine-pointed tongs that left nearly invisible scars in the glaze. Moreover, his black glaze serves as a ground for two fan-shaped "windows" of white glaze that he decorated with floral motifs rendered in enamels.

Published References
  • Mayuyama Junkichi. Japanese Art in the West. Tokyo. pl. 350.
  • Oriental Ceramics (Toyo Toji Taikan): The World's Great Collections. 12 vols., Tokyo. pl. 197.
  • Ninsei no chawan (Ninsei's Teabowls). Kansho Shirizu, no. 7 Tokyo. p. 53.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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