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

Y. Fujita and Company, Kyoto 1911 [1]

From 1911 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from Y. Fujita and Company, Kyoto in 1911 [2]

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


[1] See Original Pottery List, L. 2189, 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)

Y. Fujita and Company (C.L. Freer source)
Charles Lang Freer 1854-1919


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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