In the early seventeenth century, this powerful little sculpture in the guise of a tea bowl was made at the Motoyashiki kiln, in former Mino province. The bowl is shaped, glazed, and decorated in the format now called Black Oribe, one of numerous varieties invented by the potters working at Motoyashiki. The Black Oribe style at its most elaborate, as on this bowl, combines lustrous black glaze incised with graphic motifs and unrelated patterns loosely brushed over velvety white Mino clay and coated locally with translucent Shino glaze. All this, cradled in the hands, would frame a freshly whisked froth of chartreuse-green powdered tea, in an experience that engaged sight, touch, and taste.
Japan, Gifu prefecture, Toki city, Kujiri, Motoyashiki kiln
Momoyama period, ca. 1607–15
Mino ware, Black Oribe type
Stoneware with black glaze and iron pigment under clear glaze
Purchase—Harold P. Stern Memorial Fund, Freer trust fund, and Friends of the Freer and Sackler Galleries