Important Cultural PropertyBlue-and-white Jar with fish and water plant design

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  • Ching-te-chen ware
  • 1 piece
  • H21.7 aperture D17.7 bottom D15.5
  • Yuan period/14th century
  • Tokyo National Museum
  • TG-248

Three kinds of freshwater fish – carp, barbel steed (Hemibarbus barbus, jp. nigoi), and Chinese perch (Siniperca chuatsi) – are pictured on the three places on the body, with wavering seaweed in between. They are monochromatic without contour lines (a technique called mokkotsu, lit. buried-bones), which, as they are seen through the layer of glaze, gives an impression to the viewer that he or she is looking at the sight in the water through glass. This technique was invented by the imagination of the artisans of porcelain pictures in the time when there were no such things as glass goldfish bowls. The fish are vivid and lively, the dynamic impression of which is enhanced by the accentuated forms of the seaweed and the wave pattern specific to the Yuan period around the mouth. This piece was donated in Meiji 13 (1880) by Tanaka Yoshio, who was a pioneer of natural history in Japan and called `the father of museums.' It is a rare example of Yuan pictured porcelain imported to Japan before the Edo period.