Kenzan Mukozuke with Various Designs

  • Edo period
  • 18th century
Mukozuke Dishes with Various Designs (Set of 5)

Mukozuke Dishes with Various Designs (Set of 5)
This set of five round dishes is of the style known as maru mukozuke, round mukozuke. Using underglaze iron and indigo as well as white pigment, the decorator painted a different design on each: pine, plum, wisteria, chrysanthemum, and silver grass. The rims were edged in underglaze iron before these pieces were coated with a transparent glaze and fired at a high temperature.
The base is flat; the angle between it and the sides has been beveled, perhaps to make the dish easy to hold. The unglazed base has a large Kenzan signature in underglaze iron; we can also confirm a rather grainy, pale gray, white-type body. Perhaps because these are thin walled and wheel thrown, some are somewhat distorted or have warped bases. The pine tree design here is quite similar to one painted on the lid of the Lidded Box with Pine and Waves in the Idemitsu Museum of Art, Tokyo.
The calligraphic Kenzan signature and the peeling of the glaze (in the pine and wisteria designs) as seen in the square bowl (cat. no. 10) suggest that these mukozuke are likely to date from the Narutaki to the early Nijo Chojiyamachi period. While appearing perfectly ordinary at first glance, the fascination of these dishes increases with each viewing, culminating when food is served in them, an exquisite combination.