Tea Bowl with Half-cartwheel Design, known as YODOGAWA

  • Seto kiln, Aichi pref.
  • Edo period
  • 17c
  • Seto ware
  • H-7.7 D-14
    Formerly in the collection of Tsuchiya Soshun
Catalogue Entry

Seto ware is the general name given to wares produced around the city of Seto in Aichi prefecture. In the past, those ceramics produced in Japan's western regions, including Kyushu, Shi‐koku and Chugoku, were generally referred to as Karatsu wares. Similarly, those produced east of the Kyoto region were known generally as Seto wares. Since the Azuchi‐momoyama period when the Mino region (present‐day Toki city, Aichi prefecture) produced superb works in the Shino, Ki‐seto and Oribe styles, the Seto area has been one of the central ceramic production regions of Japan. This tea bowl is decorated with simply drawn small and large half‐cartwheels, and the mouth area is circled by a single line. The half‐cartwheel motif traces back to the Heian period, when cart wheels used on oxen carts were submerged in rivers to prevent them from drying out and cracking. While this actual source can be cited, in later periods the motif linked waterwheels and their incessant movement to the every changing nature of this ephemeral world. The name of this bowl, Yodogawa, may have come from a poem expressing just such a sentiment. In this naming of the bowl we can sense the gaze of those cultured individuals who created images and puns around the rules and nature of our human lives. This bowl is said to have been in the collection of the early Edo period samurai, Tsuchiya Soshun.