Seto ware tea caddy "Hitorine," named by Kobori Enshû (1579–1647)

Accession Number

Seto ware tea caddy "Hitorine," named by Kobori Enshû (1579–1647)

Seto Shinbei

Object Creation Date
circa 1600-1647

Medium & Support
stoneware with mottled brown glaze, ivory lid

3 in. x 2 3/8 in. x 2 3/8 in. ( 7.6 cm x 6 cm x 6 cm )

Credit Line
Bequest of Margaret Watson Parker

Label copy
Chairé (tea caddies) are used to store finely ground tea powder. Usually made of dark clay and glazes without ostentatious decorations, tea caddies are highly prized in the wabi tea ceremony, in which simplicity and a refined rusticity are cultivated and often contrasted with more opulent styles. The culture of wabi was widespread among the samurai class and was often marked by an intricate layering of materials, meanings, and both visual and literary puns.
The two beautiful shifuku (silk pouches) here are prized pieces of art and would have been presented along with the tea caddy at a ceremony. The layers of boxes, bags, and authenticating certificates accompanying this small caddy attest to the reverence in which it was held by successive generations of owners. This caddy was selected and given a proper name, “Hitorine,” by one of the most influential tea masters of the time, Kobori Enshû (1579–1647). “Hitorine,” which means “sleeping alone,” derives from a poem by Kobori, which itself contains a likely reference to a famous classical love poem.
(Label for UMMA Japanese Gallery Opening Rotation, March 2009)

Subject matter
The container is used for storing tea powder in tea ceremony. Tea master Kobori Enshû named it "Hitorine" or "Sleeping alone," a name adopted from a poem possibly composed by Enshû with allusion to a classic poem by Heian court poet and painter Fujiwara Takanobu (1142-1205).

Physical Description
Small, brown, thinly potted container with ivory lid. It has a short neck and round shoulder; The dark glaze is randomly applied from shoulder to the middle of the body. The part at the bottom is unglazed. The bottom has no foot and unglazed. The lid is concaved from the rim toward the center knob.

Primary Object Classification

Primary Object Type
tea caddy

Additional Object Classification(s)
Decorative Arts

Collection Area

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