Covered jar with design of flower maiden, sage, and child amidst flowering plants

Accession Number

Covered jar with design of flower maiden, sage, and child amidst flowering plants


Artist Nationality
Japanese (culture or style)

Object Creation Date
circa 1650

Medium & Support
porcelain, blue underglaze, and enamel overglaze painting

14 11/16 in x 10 1/4 in x 10 1/4 in (37.3 cm x 26 cm x 26 cm);14 11/16 in x 9 5/8 in x 9 5/8 in (37.3 cm x 24.5 cm x 24.5 cm)

Credit Line
Transfer from the College of Architecture and Design

Label copy
1972/2.72a: Glazed in transparent cream and heavily crackled, underglaze blue and overglaze enamels and gilt.
1972/2.72b: Teakwood cover with ivory netsuke finial of Hotei.
In the mid-seventeenth century, political turmoil in China disrupted its porcelain production. This created an opening for Japanese potters to capture the European export market by working with Dutch traders based in Nagasaki, near the harbor of Imari, from which this porcelain style derives its name.
Originally inspired by Chinese porcelains popular with the export market, Imari ware often boasts a fascinating mix of Chinese and Japanese motifs and imagery. Here for example, a Chinese scholar, possibly Tao Yuan-ming (365–427), is curiously paired with a flower maiden in the guise of a seventeenth-century Japanese courtesan. The wooden lid, which has a finial made of an ivory netsuke in the shape of the popular deity Hotei, is a later addition.
(Label for UMMA Japanese Gallery Opening Rotation, March 2009)

Subject matter
The Chinese sage with an attendant and flower maiden might be T’ao Yüan-ming, celebrated scholar and poet in Tang period. After his early retirement, he lived in his little estate where he planted many chrysanthemums and other flowers, and enjoyed drinking wine. The pot-bellied, half naked man Hotei is one of the “Seven gods of felicity,” the god of contentment and happiness. Partly Taoist and partly Buddhist origin, he is generally identified with the Chinese priest known as Pu-tai Ho-shang. The date is unknown; he is stated to have lived in the 6th, 7th, and 8th centuries. He carries a bag which is said to contain “precious things” (takaramono).

Physical Description
A medium size, well potted porcelain jar with wooden rid, round shoulder and neck. Floral designs are painted with blue underglaze and red and gold overglaze enamels. There are Chinese scholar and attendant boy with a fan on one side and Japanese lady in kimono on the opposite side, painted with enamels. Band of flowers on the neck, another broader band of chrysanthemums on the shoulder. There is also a band of leaf patterns on the bottom. A large crack from neck to the middle of the body; porcelain glaze has small cracks all over the body. The foot is unglazed; the eye is fully glazed. No glaze on the rim. The teak wood lid, a later addition, has a finial made of an ivory netsuke of laughing Hotei.

Primary Object Classification

Primary Object Type

Additional Object Classification(s)
Decorative Arts

Collection Area

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