Gourd-shaped Sake Bottle, known as Kukurizaru

  • Bizen kiln, Okayama pref.
  • Momoyama period
  • 16th-17th century
  • Bizen ware
  • H-11.9 D-9
    Miho Museum (Formerly in the collection of Masuda Don'no)
Catalogue Entry

The box inscription for this wine bottle states “Kukurizaru," literally linked monkeys, and this name evokes the charming image that maybe the box contains a trained monkey sitting quietly on his leath. Trained monkeys were long believed to cure horse illnesses in Japan, and it is said that good luck would come from having monkeys dance in stables.

There is a small depression in the lower half of this gourd‐shaped bottle, and it just fits the finger of the person holding the bottle to pour from it. The bottle feels just right in the hand. Carefully formed down to these little, seemingly unimportant details, clearly this bottle was made by a skilled craftsman. A famous example of a gourd‐shaped wine bottle is one known as Eshaku, formerly in the Masuda family collection.