Important Cultural PropertyYellow glazed pot with tree peony arabesque pattern

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  • Seto
  • 1 piece
  • H27.1 aperture D16.7 bottom D14.3
  • Kamakura period/14th century
  • Tokyo National Museum
  • G-344

It was in the beginning of the Kamakura period when the Seto kilns opened in Seto, Aichi. Following the famous Sanage kilns of the Heian period, the Seto kilns were established to the northeast of the Sanage kilns and revived gray glaze, which had not been used for a while. The Seto kilns aimed to follow the example of imported Chinese pottery. Further development of the Seto kilns was brought by the introduction of the custom of drinking tea and chinaware for it from China. This drastically advanced pottery techniques, leading to their heyday.
This pot is one of the best created by the Seto kilns during their peak period. In sync with other kilns developed after the 12th century, the Seto kilns abandoned pottery wheel techniques for some reason and adopted instead the method of hand-rolled ropes of clay. This excellent piece was also shaped with the rope method. It is modeled after the shape of the Tenryuji-style celadon jar with a peony arabesque (Seiji Botankarakusa Shukaiko) created by the Ryusen kilns in China in the late Yuan period. While the pattern of this jar also closely follows that of the Chinese original, it lacks the deep solemnity of the Chinese celadon ware. The molding also lacks fluency due to the hand-rolled rope method and the peony arabesque pattern created via kugibori (a type of line engraving) is not as powerful as that of the original. Instead, this one features a free and easy style characteristic of Japanese pottery. Moreover, the ash-gray glaze used here shows a high level of refinement, witnessing the maturity of the glaze production techniques of the Seto kilns.