Iga Flower Vessel

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Iga Flower Vessel

Japan, Momoyama period, 1573-1615
Furnishings; Serviceware
Iga ware; stoneware with natural glaze
10 7/8 x 4 1/8 x 4 7/8 in. (27.62 x 10.48 x 12.38 cm)
Gift of Camilla Chandler Frost (M.2009.52)
Currently on public view:
Pavilion for Japanese Art, floor 3 MAP IT
Pavilion for Japanese Art, floor 3

Since gallery displays may change often, please contact us before you visit to make certain this item is on view.

Curator Notes

This magnificent Flower Vessel, the finest of its kind to ever leave Japan, was made during the Momoyama period (1573-1615) in the Iga kilns located in what is now Mie Prefecture. ...
This magnificent Flower Vessel, the finest of its kind to ever leave Japan, was made during the Momoyama period (1573-1615) in the Iga kilns located in what is now Mie Prefecture. The Tea Ceremony master Kobori Enshu recognized the potential of Iga ceramics for use in the Tea Ceremony, and guided their design, firing, and forms. The Iga kilns are sister kilns of those of Shigaraki in that they are both high-fired unglazed ceramics, but Iga ceramics are much rarer than those of Shigaraki due to their multiple firings. While Shigaraki ware is fired at a high temperature of 1,500 degrees over a period of ten days, Iga pieces are fired ten times at ten days each firing, producing a naturally occurring fly-ash glaze over the multiple firings. In other words, the ravishing colors, drips, and layering that appear on this vessel is solely the result of 100 days of high-temperature firings in which the fire-ash falls onto the piece, forming what is termed a “natural glaze”; when the piece was placed in the kiln it was totally without any sort of applied glaze. The fire-ash falling on the piece results from the massive amounts of pine wood that were used to fire the kiln; in a firing of 300 objects, only five to ten were considered acceptable for use in the Tea Ceremony. On close examination, it can be seen that this vessel was first formed on a wheel, and then altered to produce its subtle form. A combing effect is also seen on its surface. This flower vessel was made to be used as a seated flower vase on the floor of the tokonoma art niche in a Tea Ceremony room, or as a hanging flower vase suspended from a hook on the main wood pillar in the tokonoma. In the Momoyama period the artist created a small hole for the hook on both sides of the vessel, allowing the artist or Tea Ceremony master to choose which side would be the front and which side the back (where the hook would be placed). In the case of this particular piece, a later Tea Ceremony master further added another hole lower down on the piece, and attached to it a metal hook. Thus, the history and use of the vessel over the last four centuries is revealed on its surface.
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