Covered Square Box with Plum Blossom and Waves Motifs

  • Narutaki, Kyoto
  • Edo period
  • 18c
  • Kenzan ware, underglaze iron and blue
  • H-8.6 D-21 W-20.5
Catalogue Entry

Edo period, 18th century
Kenzan ware, underglaze iron and blue
Height, 8.6cm; width, 20.5cm; depth, 20.5cm

A stencil paper was laid on the plain ground of the exterior of this box, and plum blossoms created in white slip were scattered over the entire surface. Then underglaze iron and blue pigments were used to draw in overlapping blossoms, and finally the entire piece was coated in transparent glaze. White slip was used to coat the entire interior of the box, and a wave pattern was drawn in underglaze blue on top of the slip, and then the interior was finally covered, like the exterior, with a transparent glaze. This transparent glaze covers almost the entire vessel surface, with only the rim of the mouth left un-glazed.
While this work does not have a Kenzan signature, a similar work of almost the same size and shape and also decorated on its exterior with a plum blossom motif created through paper stencils, is among the examples of Kenzan ware traditionally preserved in the Konoike family of Osaka. This Konoike box is inscribed on its base with an underglaze iron "Kenzan" signature in a relatively old signature style. The body clay which can be seen through the transparent glaze, between the white slip and underglaze colors, resembles the clay of a lily-shaped mukozuke dish excavated in shard form from the Narutaki kiln, and this evidence, combined with the fact that a similar work has an old form of Kenzan signature in underglaze iron, suggests the strong possibility that this work was created in a relatively early period for Kenzan ware. YO