What’s happening in Asian art

There's only one week left to view the Asia Week New York Summer Exhibition

August 9, 2021

A Safavid cobalt-backed blue-and-white pottery dish, Persia, probably Kirman, mid-seventeenth century, 41.5 cm., 16 1/8 in. diameter; 8 cm., 3 1/8 in. height, courtesy of Oliver Forge & Brendan Lynch Ltd.

This dish is one of the works of Asian art featured in the exhibition, illustrating the beauty and range of material where the color blue is used as the primary decorative motif. Others include Chinese blue and white porcelain, contemporary Japanese ceramics and glass, Japanese prints and more.

The recording of our July 29th Zoom webinar, The Color that Changed the World: The Impact of Blue in Asian Art, a fascinating discussion by five expert panelists about this topic, will be available to view on our website very soon.

Object in Focus

Oribe Mukouzuke-Chaire, Momoyama - Early Edo Period, Early 17th century, Japan, 10cm High x 8.2cm Wide, courtesy of Zetterquist Galleries

This delightful little object illustrates the playful, innovative side of Oribe ceramics in the Japanese Tea Ceremony. Originally produced as a small basket-form food bowl in the early 17th century, it was later repurposed as a tea caddy, with the addition of the lacquered ebony lids. A combination of the russet glaze of the handle and the green glazed stripes on the body have melded during the firing and created ruby red drips at the bottom, a fortuitous gift from the kiln gods!

It is an early Narumi-type Oribe basket-shaped bowl of double lozenge form, with high-arched rust colored handle that spans the center. The underside is flat, and has a recessed circular underfoot with turned pin lines typical of Oribe pieces of this early period. The underside is unglazed, revealing a light brown clay body. The interior is buff and white, with soft transitions from flat bottom to vertical walls. The exterior sides are buff colored and decorated with stripes, hanging fruit and a single plum blossom outlined in black and highlighted in white and celadon green glaze. The celadons mix with the iron oxide to pool in rare ruby-red droplets near the foot. A flat wooden lid is custom fitted to the top, and splits in two at the handle, to allow use as a tea caddy for the Japanese tea ceremony. In a fitted lacquer box with silver inlay inscription, “Oribe”.

A double-lozenge form bowl with handle was excavated in the Nakano-cho site in Kyoto City, and is published in “Momoyama Tea Utensils: A New View”, Nezu Museum Tokyo 2018. pg. 60. Another larger example is published in “Turning Point; Oribe and the Arts of the 16th Century Japan”, Yale University Press 2003. pl. 64. See Nippon Touji Zenshu, Chuo Publishing 1976 pl. 16 for similar countersunk foot with pin lines on a similarly dated mukouzuke.

Provenance: Niiseki Kinya Collection, Yokohama Japan.

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