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Porcelain with underglaze blue
Overall: 7.5 x 4.6 cm (2 15/16 x 1 13/16 in.)
Bequest of Mrs. Severance A. Millikin 1989.265.2.a
Aoki Mokubei, born into a family of restaurateurs, was a potter, calligrapher, painter, and scholar, and is considered one of the three masters of later Edo period Kyoto ceramics. He specialized in porcelains fashioned after Chinese prototypes, and created works for steeped tea (sencha) such as these matching tea caddies decorated in an underglaze blue called sometsuke—literally “with applied dye.” He signed them on their bottoms. They also have intricately patterned silk sleeves to both beautify and protect them. On the exterior of the lid of the outer wooden box that contains them, it is written that Mokubei inscribed and painted an image on the box. On the interior of the lid, the signature and seals of a former owner are written. Mokubei has signed the lid of the inner box, and a charming ink and light color composition of West Lake in Hangzhou in China covers its three sides. On the fourth side is a long inscription by Mokubei describing the scene.
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