Square dish with design of Twelfth Month, after Fujiwara Teika, Poems of the Twelve Months

Artist: Ogata Kenzan (1663-1743) Narutaki workshop (active 1699-1712)
Historical period(s)
Edo period, 1699-1712
Buff clay; enamels, white slip, and iron pigment under transparent lead glaze
H x W x D: 2.5 × 17 × 16.8 cm (1 × 6 11/16 × 6 5/8 in)
Japan, Kyoto prefecture, Kyoto
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view
Ceramic, Vessel

Square dish (kakuzara)

duck, Edo period (1615 - 1868), flower, Japan

To 1905
Thomas E. Waggaman (1839-1906), Washington, DC, to 1905 [1]

From 1905 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased at the sale of the Waggaman Collection, American Art Association, New York, NY, January 25-February 3, 1905, no. 1654 [2]

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


[1] See Original Pottery List, L. 1371, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives. Also see Curatorial Remark 18, Louise Cort, June 17, 2008, in the object record.

[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)

Thomas E. Waggaman 1839-1906
Charles Lang Freer 1854-1919
American Art Association (C.L. Freer source) established 1883


The size, the underlying decoration of colored swatches on the back simulating the traditional cloud-patterned paper kumogami, and the composition of the poetry all suggest the format of the poem card, or shikishi, a heavy-paper card used for inscribing poetry. The theme of the painting is one of twelve vignettes of birds and flowers of the twelve months based on paired poems by Fujiwara Teika (1162-1241). The dish illustrates the twelth month:

Plum blossoms:
It is that time when snow buries the colors of the hedge,
Yet a branch of plum is blooming, on "this side" of the New Year.

Mandarin duck:
The snow falls on the ice of the pond on which I gaze, 
piling up as does this passing year on all years past,
And on the feathered coat of the mandarin duck, the "bird of regret."

Teika verse translations by Edward Kamens in Word in Flower, ed. Carolyn
Wheelwright (New Haven: Yale University Art Gallery, 1989)

Published References
  • Matthias Ostermann. The Ceramic Narrative. London and Philadelphia. fig. 16.
  • Zaigai Nihon no Shiho [Japanese Art: Selections from Western Collections]. 10 vols., Tokyo, 1979 - 1980. vol. 9: pl. 36.
  • Oriental Ceramics: The World's Great Collections. 12 vols., Tokyo. vol. 10, pl. 58.
  • Richard L. Wilson. The Potter's Brush: The Kenzan Style in Japanese Ceramics. Exh. cat. Washington. cat. 16, p. 83.
  • , no. 39 Lexington, Massachusetts, 2018. p. 150, fig. 27.
  • Louise Allison Cort. The Kenzan Style in Japanese Ceramics. Watertown, Massachusetts, Autumn 2002. p. 167.
  • Thomas Lawton, Linda Merrill. Freer: a legacy of art. Washington and New York, 1993. p. 220, fig. 151.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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