Wide-mouthed Jar with Fire Marks

  • Bizen kiln, Okayama pref.
  • Momoyama period
  • 16-17c
  • Bizen ware, stoneware
  • H-36.2 D-38
Catalogue Entry

Bizen ware is also one of the six classic kilns whose production dates back to the medieval period. Highly viscous clay has been used since the late Muromachi period (1392-1573) to produce ceramic ware known as yakishime too. The highly sticky clay with very iron content used in Bizen was easy to form and, when fired, became watertight, a process known as yakishime. For this reason, Bizen ware was praised for high quality water vessels, such as those used in tea ceremonies. A large number of wide-mouthed jars have been produced since the Muromachi period, probably for holding water and/or sake. When producing Bizen ware, rice straw is used to prevent vessels from becoming stuck to each other or damaged from contact with other vessels. During firing, the straw causes a reddish brown coloration on the clay, called hidasuki.

This jar has hidasuki on the outside as well as on the inside, suggestive of a weeping willow, giving the jar a delicate and beautiful appearance. A string decoration was applied to the middle portion of the jar, which perhaps adds little to the overall aesthetic quality. The lines close to the bottom, with the lowest part deep brown in color, are evidence of double firing. Considering the rather dark hidasuki coloration in this area, it appears that, during its second firing, this jar was reduction-fired by being placed in a larger pot and prevented from being subjected to the direct flames. On the bottom of the jar, one finds a kiln mark 〒 made with a potter's spatula.