Important Cultural PropertyShinnari kettle with the motif of pine grove by the seashore

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  • Ashiya
  • 1 piece
  • Iron
  • Muromachi period/15th century
  • Tokyo National Museum
  • E-19998

While a kettle was originally a kitchen utensil used to boil water, kettles for the tea ceremony began to be produced in the Kamakura period along with the development and spread of the tea ceremony. Ashiya at the mouth of River Onga in Chikuzen (Fukuoka) and Tenmyo in Sano, Shimotsuke (Tochigi) are two sites that are particularly famous for the production of kettles for the tea ceremonies.
This Hamamatsuzu-shinarigama is one of the best kettles produced in Ashiya and ranks top among many other tea ceremony kettles. The mouth is slightly wide and in a tight kurikuchi style (the rim of the kettle mouth is folded inward) and has lug handles in the shape of a powerful ogre face toward the right and left lower sides of the body, which has sloping shoulders. The material is fine textured and shines with a quiet brown luster. The shoulders are surrounded by a string and at the bottom edge of the kettle, a sand beach is represented by a hail pattern, on which pine trees with crooked branches are cast in a delicate manner. The Shinnari form and its smooth texture are unique characteristics of Ashiya kettles, which present a clear contrast to the original form and rough and powerful texture of Tenmyo kettles.
It is said that Saint Myoe initiated and promoted the production of kettles in Ashiya during the period from 1201 to 1203, but there is no solid evidence for this. However, existing old temple bells and hanging lanterns indicate that the founders of Ashiya were already actively producing cast objects in the early Muromachi period. This kettle is one of the oldest existing Ashiya kettles and some even claim that it was created as early as the Kamakura period.