Important Cultural PropertyWater jug

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  • 1 piece
  • Cast copper alloy (with tin, lead and zinc)
  • Total H26.4 aperture D4.9 body D11.3
  • Asuka-Nara period/7-8th century
  • Tokyo National Museum
  • N-252

A Suibyô (ewer) is a container for water for drinking or washing the hands. In ancient times, it was one of the daily necessities for priests (eighteen items for bhikku) and then it became used frequently as a tool for Buddhist memorial services or a Buddhist altar fitting. It was produced in the regions within the sphere of Buddhist culture, including India, Central Asia, Southeast Asia, China and the Korean Peninsula.
There are some different types known depending on the times and regions. The ewers among the Imperial bequest to Horyu-ji Temple are mainly those with a long neck and no spout and they are roughly categorized from the shape of the body into turnip-shaped ones and egg-shaped ones. The origin of these types seems to come from ancient India and West Asia and probably came to Japan around the sixth century via China and the Korean Peninsula.
All of the ewers are formed into a round and swollen shape, making good use of the characteristics of Sahari (an alloy of copper, tin and lead) that is suitable for spin finishing. Even among similar types, the tastes of the ewers vary delicately with each other. It is likely that there is some difference in when and where they were produced.