Tea-leaf storage jar

Artist: Nonomura Ninsei (active ca. 1646-77)
Historical period(s)
Edo period, ca. 1646-1677
Stoneware with iron glaze
H x W: 24.8 x 27.3 cm (9 3/4 x 10 3/4 in)
Japan, Kyoto prefecture, Kyoto
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view
Ceramic, Vessel

Tea-leaf storage jar (chatsubo)

Edo period (1615 - 1868), Japan, Kyoto ware, stoneware, tea, WWII-era provenance
Provenance research underway.

The Kyoto potter Ninsei, master of a workshop located near the Buddhist temple Ninnaji, was the creative leader of Kyoto ceramics in the third quarter of the seventeenth century. His repertoire included stylish reinterpretations of classic Chinese, Korean, and Japanese ceramics, such as this tea-leaf jar, which is covered in an iron glaze associated with jars from the Seto kilns (Ninsei is said to have trained in Seto as a young man.)  Ninsei enlivened the glaze by using a stiff brush to rub away areas of the glaze before firing, resulting in a richly colored and textured surface. He also transformed the standard wheel-thrown jar shape by pressing sharp edges into the soft clay to create a four-sided form. A rim fragment of a small white-glazed bowl adhering to the dark glaze documents an accident in the kiln. Ninsei must have accepted if not welcomed this unexpected decoration, since he did not destroy the jar.

Published References
  • Zaigai Nihon no Shiho [Japanese Art: Selections from Western Collections]. 10 vols., Tokyo, 1979 - 1980. vol. 9: pl. 73.
  • Tanaka Sakutaro. Ninsei. no. 24 Tokyo. pl. 3.
  • Oriental Ceramics: The World's Great Collections. 12 vols., Tokyo. vol. 10, pl. 57.
  • Sekai toji zenshu [Catalogue of the World's Ceramics]. 16 vols, Tokyo, 1955-1958. vol. 5: text 282, pl. 27.
  • Mayuyama Junkichi. Japanese Art in the West. Tokyo. pl. 351.
  • Roger Soame Jenyns. Japanese Pottery. London. pl. 95A.
  • Hayashiya Seizo. Ninsei. Nihon no Bijutsu, no. 138 Tokyo, November 1977. fig. 32.
  • Dr. John Alexander Pope, Thomas Lawton, Harold P. Stern. The Freer Gallery of Art. 2 vols., Washington and Tokyo, 1971-1972. cat. 103, vol. 2: p. 180.
  • Okamoto Kohei. Tea Urn by Ninsei. Tokyo, July 1961. p. 47, pl. 4.
  • Masterpieces of Chinese and Japanese Art: Freer Gallery of Art handbook. Washington, 1976. p. 83.
  • Japanese Ceramics by Roy Andrew Miller, after the Japanese Text. Tokyo. p. 90, fig. 195.
  • Shoki Kyo-yaki: Early Kyoto Ceramics. p. 96.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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