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Presentation Jar for Pickled Plums

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Japan Anonymous, Japanese
Presentation Jar for Pickled Plums, 1776-1800
Pigment and glaze on Porcelain
9 3/4 x 9 1/2 in. (25 x 24 cm)

Object Type: Ceramic
Technique: Thrown
Creation Place: Asia, Japan
Credit Line: Purchase, Scripps Collectors' Circle
Accession Number: 2017.4.2

Porcelain production began in Japan in the early 17th century and required a mastery of more advanced technology than that required for other types of ceramics. Despite their beauty, porcelain ceramics were not just used as decorative objects but served a functional purpose as well. This particular piece, Presentation Jar for Pickled Plums, had been filled with pickled plums that were given to select important officials within the prefecture.

This jar is one of a special group of similar jars that were commissioned to be made at Arita kilns, specifically by the Hiekoba kilns, each year from about 1770-1800, by the head of Saga Prefecture. It’s unknown how many similar jars survive in the present day but in the US one other is in the Freer/Sackler Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution and other jars from this group can be found at the Kyushu National Museum and the Saga Prefectural Museum of Ceramics in Japan. Each jar is decorated with three different floral sprays, which are the same on all the jars that were produced as direct commissions during the Edo period.

Richard Mellott

Porcelain with cobalt pigment under clear colorless glaze

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