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Bizen ware vase

Accession Number
1967/2.7

Title
Bizen ware vase

Artist(s)
Kaneshige Tôyô

Object Creation Date
circa 1960

Medium & Support
stoneware

Dimensions
10 1/8 in x 4 5/16 in x 4 5/16 in (25.72 cm x 10.95 cm x 10.95 cm);10 1/8 in x 3 15/16 in x 3 15/16 in (25.72 cm x 10 cm x 10 cm);11 7/16 in x 6 13/16 in x 6 11/16 in (29.05 cm x 17.3 cm x 16.99 cm)

Credit Line
Gift of the Marvin Felheim Collection

Label copy
Like Shigaraki ware, Bizen is an unglazed stoneware fired in a wood-burning kiln—but differences in the local clay yield entirely different results. Bizen clay contains a high percentage of iron; it yields a hard, smooth surface that holds sharply incised decor. As the light pine ash drifts through the kiln, it falls on the clay, creating a "sesame seed" effect. Seaweed or salt-soaked straw rope is often wrapped around the pot to leave patterned traces.
The Bizen kilns have been in operation since the sixth century, but by early modern times, they were in steep decline. Kaneshige Tôyô single-handedly led a revival of Momoyama wares. His work can be remarkably faithful to Momoyama prototypes, as in this water jar, or subtly modern, as in the flower vase with its angular contours. For his accomplishments in restoring Bizen ware to its long-lost fame, Kaneshige was named a "Living National Treasure" by the Japanese government.
Exhibited in "Japanese Costumes & Ceramics, Past & Present," October 2001-February 2002. Maribeth Graybill, Senior Curator of Asian Art
Like Shigaraki ware, Bizen is an unglazed stoneware fired in a wood-burning kiln—but differences in the local clay yield entirely different results. Bizen clay contains a high percentage of iron; it produces a hard, smooth surface that holds sharply incised decor. As the pine ash drifts through the kiln, it falls on the clay, creating a "sesame seed" effect.
The Bizen kilns have been in operation since the sixth century, but by early modern times they were in steep decline. Kaneshige single-handedly led a revival of Momoyama wares. His work is characterized by its bold clay construction and free, playful application of fire patterns—bringing a twentieth-century aesthetic to bear on a sixteenth-century ceramic tradition.
(Label for UMMA Japanese Gallery Opening Rotation, March 2009)
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Bizen and Shigaraki wares represent a tradition, long prized in Japan, of unglazed stoneware fired in a wood-burning kiln. Bizen clay contains a high percentage of iron, which produces a hard, smooth surface that holds sharply incised décor; the sesame seed effect seen here is created by the pine ash that falls on the clay as it drifts through the kiln. The Bizen kilns have been in operation since the sixth century, and in the Momoyama period (1583–1615), the rustic, earthy clay tones of the wares produced in them were highly valued by tea practitioners. By the early nineteenth century, however, the quality of Bizen wares was in steep decline. Kaneshige single-handedly revived this sixteenth-century ceramic tradition, while bringing to bear on it a twentieth-century aesthetic. His work is characterized by its bold clay construction and free, playful application of fire patterns.
(Turning Point exhibition, Spring 2010)

Subject matter
Bizen wares are often used for tea ceremony. This flower vase would have been placed on the alcove of a tea room.

Physical Description
This is a tall, cylindrical vase, slightly bulged at the middle. There are multiple incised lines around the neck and the bottom. The middle part has several vertical incision marks. The bottom is flat. It has a brown body, unglazed, with grayish ash glaze marks.

Primary Object Classification
Ceramic

Primary Object Type
vase

Additional Object Classification(s)
Decorative Arts

Collection Area
Asian

Rights
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Keywords
ceramics (object genre)
vases

& Author Notes

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