mid- to late 1600s
(Japanese, active 1600s)
Stoneware with white glaze (Shigaraki style)
Diameter: 28.7 cm (11 5/16 in.); Overall: 28.3 cm (11 1/8 in.)
Purchase from the J. H. Wade Fund 1978.6
After studying ceramics in the Seto and Awataguchi areas, Ninsei returned to his birthplace, Kyoto, where he established a kiln near the gates of the Buddhist temple Ninnaji. In Japan’s medieval era, ceramicists did not sign their works; however, Ninsei placed his seal on his ceramics, an unprecedented action that was decidedly modern for the time. Although he is best known for elaborately glazed and painted works, this tea storage jar, its shape known as a tsubo, is left simple and mostly undecorated. It is a Shigaraki utsushi—a work inspired by the shapes of Shigaraki ware but potted with refined Kyoto methods and using clay from the capital. It would have suited a tea master interested in a rustic yet polished aesthetic.
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