Tea-leaf storage jar, Sobokai type

Gray clay, reddish brown on surface (Sobokai clay). Concentrically trimmed base. Four broad lugs equally spaced on shoulder. Inscription incised on base, “Sobokai [tsukuru?]” ([made at?] Sobokai). Thin iron slip over neck, shoulder, and most of body; thin, naturally occuring ash glaze deposit on shoulder and inside neck. Inside unglazed. Paulownia wood lid, inscribed in ink “Ubagafutokoro.” Silk storage bag.

Historical period(s)
Muromachi period, 1525-1550
Medium
Gray stoneware (reddish-brown on surface) with iron slip under iron glaze and fly-ash glaze
Style
Mino ware, Sobokai type
Dimensions
H x W x D: 33.5 x 30 x 30 cm (13 3/16 x 11 13/16 x 11 13/16 in)
Geography
Japan, Gifu prefecture, Toki city, Kakishita no. 1 kiln
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Collection
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
F1966.17a-d
On View Location
Currently not on view
Classification(s)
Ceramic, Vessel
Type

Tea-leaf storage jar (chatsubo)

Keywords
Japan, Mino ware, Sobokai type, Muromachi period (1333 - 1573), stoneware, tea, WWII-era provenance
Provenance

To 1966
N.V. Hammer, Inc., New York. [1]

From 1966
Freer Gallery of Art, purchased from N.V. Hammer, Inc., New York. [2]

Notes:

[1] Curatorial Remark 1 in the object record.

[2] See note 1.

Previous Owner(s)

N.V. Hammer, Inc.

Description

Gray clay, reddish brown on surface (Sobokai clay). Concentrically trimmed base. Four broad lugs equally spaced on shoulder. Inscription incised on base, "Sobokai [tsukuru?]" ([made at?] Sobokai). Thin iron slip over neck, shoulder, and most of body; thin, naturally occuring ash glaze deposit on shoulder and inside neck. Inside unglazed. Paulownia wood lid, inscribed in ink "Ubagafutokoro." Silk storage bag.

Inscription(s)

Inscription incised on base, "Sobokai [tsukuru?]" ([made at?] Sobokai).

Label

Even in jars and bowls modeled after Chinese monochrome ceramics, the work of sixteenth-century Seto and Mino potters reflects the emergence of a Japanese preference for asymmetrical forms and lustrous, richly colored glazes.  The name Sobokai is written on the base of this jar. Iron-rich Sobokai clay, very dark when fired, was preferred for making jars to store tea leaves and tea caddies for the tea powder.  A coating of iron-bearing clay solution, called slip, enhances the clay's color.

Published References
  • Zaigai Nihon no Shiho [Japanese Art: Selections from Western Collections]. 10 vols., Tokyo, 1979 - 1980. vol. 9: pl. 17.
  • Oriental Ceramics: The World's Great Collections. 12 vols., Tokyo. vol. 10, pl. 46.
  • Sherman Lee. Tea Taste in Japanese Art. Exh. cat. New York. pl. 31.
  • Louise Allison Cort. Seto and Mino Ceramics. Washington and Honolulu, 1992. cat. 17, p. 21.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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