Tea Bowl with Blossoming Plum Branch Design

  • Kyoto
  • Edo period
  • 18c
  • Kenzan ware, underglaze and overglaze decoration
  • H-7.3 D-10
Catalogue Entry

Edo period, 18th century
Kenzan ware, underglaze and overglaze decoration
Height, 7.3cm; mouth diameter, 10.2cm;
foot diameter, 5.3cm

The trunk and branches of a plum tree are drawn in underglaze iron while the buds are drawn in underglaze blue. A white slip was used to draw the petals of white plum blossoms, and the entire work was coated in a semi-transparent glaze and then fired. Overglaze red, green, and yellow pigments were used to create the petals of the red blossoms, the young shoots on the plum tree, and the pistils and stamens of the white plum blossoms. The base of the carved foot and the interior of the foot were left unglazed, and the side of the foot is inscribed "Kenzan" in under-glaze iron.

While it is hard to determine the date of production, this tea bowl is accompanied by a box inscription in ink (on the exterior of the box lid) that reads "Yarimume Kyocho Shisui Shinsei," and a hint can be found in the fact that the character "shin" in this inscription is written in its old form. Research on letters and box inscription shows that this signature does not accord with those before the Kyoho era (1716-1736), and it can thus be suggested that this old character for "shin" may have been used by Kenzan during his later years. Further, if this box inscription is considered to be in Kenzan's own hand, then we must consider that this bowl was also created in a later period at the earliest, in his Nijo Chojiyamachi period, or at the latest, after he moved to Edo in 1731. YO