Important Cultural PropertyTenmoku Bowl with Oil-spot Pattern

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  • By Kenyou
  • 1 piece
  • H7.0
  • Southern Song period (China)/12th-13th century
  • Kyushu National Museum
  • G-16

Silver spots emerge inside and outside the bowl covered by jet-black glaze except the foot area. The name “Yuteki” derives from the beautiful shape of the spots that look like oil drops. Although these bowls are called Yuteki Tenmoku Chawan at present, they used to be called “Yuteki” or “Yuteki Tenmoku” in the Muromachi period. They are the bowls fired in Kenyo kiln in 水吉鎮 in the northern part of Fujian, China.

The tea bowls with black glaze baked in the Kenyo kiln are called Kensan. Kensan is considered to be the best bowl for tea in China and the name already appears in the literature of the Kamakura period in Japan. Kensan has a thin, short linear pattern on the black glazed surface like nogi (millet), a gramineous plant and this is why Kensan is also called Nogime. Among these Kensan bowls, those with spots that emerged as a result of the re-crystallization of the minerals in glaze were called Yuteki.

There is a manual on the room decorations of the Muromachi Shogunate called Kuntaikansochoki, through which we can see people’s values at the time. The first half of the book provides evaluations of painters and their specialized themes. In the latter half of the book, there is a section on Shoin (study room), where descriptions of Chinese tea containers and bowls are given as decoration items used in Shoin. In this section, there are descriptions of Tenmoku or Tenmoku Chawan under the heading of earthenware, which are tea bowls excluding porcelain bowls. According to this description, the best earthenware is Yohen and the second best is Yuteki.

In the box of this tea bowl, the two words “Yuteki” and “Tenmoku” are written in sumi, which is said to have been written by Sen no Rikyu or Furuta Oribe. This tea bowl was possessed by Matsudaira Fumai, a feudal lord and master of the tea ceremony in the late Edo period and in his storehouse catalog “Unshu Kuracho Daimeibutsubu,” the bowl is recorded as “Yuteki, Koshiki, Doi Toshikatsu, Kinoshita ??, Fushimiya.”
Among Yuteki bowls, this one stands out for its beautiful Tenmoku shape and magnificent Yuteki spots.