Black Raku ware tea bowl

Historical period(s)
Momoyama period, late 16th century
Pottery with Black Raku glaze; black lacquer repairs
Raku ware
H x Diam: 8.6 x 11 cm (3 3/8 x 4 5/16 in)
Japan, Kyoto prefecture, Kyoto
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Freer Gallery 09: The Power to See Beauty
Ceramic, Vessel

Tea bowl

Japan, lacquer repair, Momoyama period (1573 - 1615), Raku ware, tea

To 1902
Bunkio Matsuki (1867-1940), Boston, to 1902 [1]

From 1902 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from Bunkio Matsuki in 1902 [2]

From 1920
Freer Gallery of Art, gift of Charles Lang Freer in 1920 [2]


[1] See Original Pottery List, L. 1115, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives.

[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
Bunkio Matsuki (C.L. Freer source) 1867-1940


The small size, minimal sculpting, and dull black glaze associate this bowl with the formative phase of Raku tea bowl production in the 1580s, when this type of hand-formed bowl allegedly originated through the collaboration of Chojiro (died 1589), a maker of roof tiles, and Sen no Rikyu (1522-1591), the foremost tea master of the day. This bowl does not closely resemble the workmanship associated specifically with Chojiro; it may have been made by another potter in Chojiro's workshop--or even by a completely unrelated workshop. Recent archaeological findings indicate that several different Kyoto workshops were producing such tea bowls. The Raku workshop lasted longest and became best known.

Published References
  • Hanna Szczepanowska. Conservationof Cultural Heritage: Key Principles and Approaches. .
  • Morgan Pitelka. Handmade Culture: Raku Potters, Patrons, and Tea Practitioners in Japan. Honolulu. pl. 2.
  • Thomas Kerrigan. Raku. Richmond, VA, Spring 1971. fig. 1.
  • Oriental Ceramics: The World's Great Collections. 12 vols., Tokyo. vol. 10, pl. 207.
  • James C. Watkins, Paul Andrew Wandless. Alternative Kilns and Firing Techniques: Raku, Saggar, Pit, Barrel., 1st ed. New York. p. 14.
  • Beatrice Hohenegger. Liquid Jade: The Story of Tea from East to West., 1st ed. New York. p. 45.
  • Louise Allison Cort. Early Modern Merchants as Collectors. Abingdon, Oxon England, 12/19/2016. p. 58, fig. 3.5.
  • , no. 39 Lexington, Massachusetts, 2018. p.152, fig. 30.
  • Richard L. Wilson. The Potter's Brush: The Kenzan Style in Japanese Ceramics. Exh. cat. Washington. p. 158, fig. 40.
  • Edwards Park. Treasures from the Smithsonian Institution., 1st ed. Washington and New York. p. 357.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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