Tea bowl with design of pampas grass

Artist: Ogata Kenzan (1663-1743) Chojiyamachi workshop
Historical period(s)
Edo period, 1712-ca. 1731
Buff clay; white slip, cobalt and iron pigments under transparent glaze
H x W: 6.9 x 11.1 cm (2 11/16 x 4 3/8 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

Tea bowl

Edo period (1615 - 1868), grass, Japan, tea
Provenance research underway.

The pampas grass (susuki; Miscanthus sinensis) is renowned as one of the seven grasses of autumn, and is so designated in Japan's oldest native verse collection, the eighth-century anthology Mamyoshu (Collection of myriad leaves). As a ritual offering, susuki appears in the full-moon festival jugoya--the fifteenth day of the eighth lunar month), where celebrants arrange an offering of fruit, rice dumplings, and pampas grass to the moon-spirit. Pampas grass rose to prominence as a motif in the late sixteenth century, when it was employed as a lacquer decoration in the Toyotomi family mortuary temple, Kodaiji. By Kenzan's time, it had become a general autumnal symbol as in this poem:

Pampas grass in the wind--
Waves farewell, farewell
To the departing autumn.

Published References
  • Richard L. Wilson. The Potter's Brush: The Kenzan Style in Japanese Ceramics. Exh. cat. Washington. cat. 58, p. 141.
  • Louise Allison Cort. The Kenzan Style in Japanese Ceramics. Watertown, Massachusetts, Autumn 2002. p. 167.
  • Jack Hobbs, Richard Salome, Ken Vieth. The Visual Experience., 3rd Edition. Worcester, Massachusetts, 2004-2005. p. 368.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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