Jar with Egret(Heron) and Tree Motifs

  • Arita kiln, Saga pref.
  • Early Edo period
  • 17c
  • Arita ware, Imari type, underglaze blue
  • H-22.8 D-16
Catalogue Entry

Edo period, 17th century
Imari ware, underglaze blue
Height, 22.8cm; mouth diameter, 9.2cm;
torso diameter, 15.5cm; base diameter, 7.8cm

A flying egret has been depicted in underglaze blue on the shoulder of this jar, and this simple design might, at first glance, conjure an image of Korean Yi dynasty blue-and-white wares; however, there are almost no examples of Yi dynasty blue-and-white jars with proportions similar to those of this jar which is characterized by an egg shape with little shoulder swell. Generally, Yi dynasty jars are wide-shouldered and narrow-hipped. The body clay and the glazing seem to indicate that this is an example of Imari ware.
The tree motif painted directly opposite the egret motif has a luxuriant growth of leaves that looks like those of a weeping willow tree, but the branch style does not appear to be willow, and thus it is hard to determine the type of tree depicted. There are many pinholes, and a white porcelaneous glaze with a slight bluish tinge covers almost the entire exterior of body and lid. The underglaze cobalt-blue pigment has been fired to a slightly blackened blue appearance. If this is an Imari ware piece, the manner in which the underglaze cobalt was fired would indicate a relatively early date for this work; and yet, while the egret pattern appears occasionally in early Imari wares, the expression of the motif differs slightly from that seen here. YO