Tea ceremony water jar, Bizen ware

Historical period(s)
Edo period, 1625-1650
Stoneware with brown slip under accidental wood-ash glaze; lacquered wooden lid
Bizen ware
H x W: 16.8 x 20.1 cm (6 5/8 x 7 15/16 in)
Japan, Okayama prefecture, Imbe
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view
Ceramic, Vessel

Tea ceremony water jar (mizusashi)

Bizen ware, Edo period (1615 - 1868), Japan, stoneware, tea, water

To 1900
Yamanaka & Company, to 1900 [1]

From 1900 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from Yamanaka & Company in 1900 [2]

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


[1] See Original Pottery List, L. 64, 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) and Custodian(s)

Charles Lang Freer 1854-1919
Yamanaka and Co. (C.L. Freer source) 1917 - 1965


This freshwater jar combines an artfully rusticated surface with a shape based on a lacquered wooden box used to store a courtier's hat. In a tea gathering, the freshwater jar holds cold water used to replenish the kettle. Bizen ware was favored for freshwater jars because of the dark, mellow coloration of its fine-grained clay. A Bizen potter threw this thin-walled jar on a wheel, then pressed it into a squared form. A coating of iron-rich clay solution, called slip, intensified the color, which acquired further depth during firing where drifts of wood ash from the burning fuel landed and melted. Before a tea gathering the jar would have been soaked in water to bring out the nuances of the coloration.

Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
SI Usage Statement

Usage Conditions Apply

There are restrictions for re-using this image. For more information, visit the Smithsonian's Terms of Use page.

The information presented on this website may be revised and updated at any time as ongoing research progresses or as otherwise warranted. Pending any such revisions and updates, information on this site may be incomplete or inaccurate or may contain typographical errors. Neither the Smithsonian nor its regents, officers, employees, or agents make any representations about the accuracy, reliability, completeness, or timeliness of the information on the site. Use this site and the information provided on it subject to your own judgment. The Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery welcome information that would augment or clarify the ownership history of objects in their collections.