Seto ware flask

Light gray clay. Pale green ash glaze of irregular thickness with heavy runs toward foot, continuing over unglazed base; stained at a later date with Chinese ink. Triple lines incised with comb around neck and upper body; two widely spaced single lines incised around midpoint of body. Black lacquer and applied gold leaf repair on rim.

Historical period(s)
Kamakura period, 1310-1330
Medium
Stoneware with pale green ash glaze; gold lacquer repairs; later staining
Style
Seto ware
Dimensions
H x W x D: 25.8 x 16.3 x 16.3 cm (10 3/16 x 6 7/16 x 6 7/16 in)
Geography
Japan, Aichi prefecture, Seto, Possibly Kayakari kiln
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Accession Number
F1914.14
On View Location
Currently not on view
Classification(s)
Ceramic, Vessel
Type

Flask (heishi)

Keywords
Japan, Kamakura period (1185 - 1333), lacquer repair, Seto ware, stoneware
Provenance

Hayashi Tadamasa (1853-1906), Paris [1]

To 1914
William Baumgarten and Company, New York to 1914 [2]

From 1914 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from William Baumgarten and Company, New York, in 1914 [3]

From 1920
Freer Gallery of Art, gift of Charles Lang Freer in 1920 [4]

Notes:

[1] See Charles Lang Freer, Note on List, Object file.

[2] See Original Pottery List, L. 2383, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives.

[3] See note 2.

[4] 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)

William Baumgarten and Company (C.L. Freer source)
Hayashi Tadamasa French (born Japan), 1853 - 1906
Charles Lang Freer 1854-1919

Description

Light gray clay. Pale green ash glaze of irregular thickness with heavy runs toward foot, continuing over unglazed base; stained at a later date with Chinese ink. Triple lines incised with comb around neck and upper body; two widely spaced single lines incised around midpoint of body. Black lacquer and applied gold leaf repair on rim.

Label

This flask was made by a potter working at the Seto kilns, near the modern city of Nagoya. The kilns began making glazed stoneware ceramics in the twelfth century and are still active today as a major center of ceramic production. Wares made between the twelfth and early sixteenth centuries are known as Old Seto.

The shape of this flask, with its high shoulders, tapering walls, and narrow base, belongs to the middle period of the five phases of Old Seto chronology as archaeologists currently construe it. The positioning of the three incised bands, with the lowest placed quite far down on the body, also agrees with fourteenth-century types. On the interior wall, clear traces of the wide clay coils from which the flask was built show that the coils were not well consolidated in the construction process. Clinging to the interior wall are flecks of what appears to be cinnabar red lacquer, which would have been applied to prevent leaking.

With its narrow opening, this type of flask was used in a secular context to serve distilled rice wine or sake. Many such flasks have been handed down in Buddhist temples, where they served as altar vases, and in Shinto shrines, where they contained offertory sake. This flask, however, would seem to have been "collected" as an antique at some point. One owner stained the flask with Chinese ink to emphasize the crackle pattern in the glaze. The same owner probably ordered a specialist to repair the chipped rim with black lacquer imbedded with gold-leaf flakes of identical scale as the crackle.

Published References
  • Oriental Ceramics (Toyo Toji Taikan): The World's Great Collections. 12 vols., Tokyo. pl. 44.
  • Stephen Weintraub, Kanya Tsujimoto, Sadae Y. Walters. Urushi and Conservation: The Use of Japanese Lacquer in the Restoration of Japanese Art. vol. 11 Washington and Ann Arbor. fig. 24-25.
  • Louise Allison Cort. Seto and Mino Ceramics. Washington and Honolulu, 1992. cat. 3, p. 61.
  • Ann Yonemura. Japanese Lacquer. Washington, 1979. cat. 55, p. 90.
  • Impressions: The Journal of the Japanese Art Society of America. no. 39 Lexington, MA, 2018. p. 149, fig. 24.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Whistler's Neighborhood
Google Cultural Institute
Rights Statement

Copyright with museum