[Summer Exhibition] Masaki Art Museum Masterpieces
Masaki Art Museum in Tadaoka-cho, Senboku-gun, Osaka, holds a wide range of tea ceremony utensils, Buddhist art works and archeological materials, mainly in medieval ink paintings and calligraphy. This is the 14th exhibition at the atrium on the 25th floor of the Park Hotel Tokyo. This time, we will introduce the tea ceremony utensils used in the tea ceremony from our collection.
Takayuki Masaki, the founder of the museum, devoted himself to the tea ceremony while collecting antique art pieces from Japan and the Orient. The works on display were actually used in the tea ceremony itself. Please enjoy the exhibit of works which adorned and entertained the eyes of the guests at tea ceremony.
[Place] Atrium, Park Hotel Tokyo (25F)
[Fare] Free of Charge [About the Masterpieces]
1 Iga Ware Flower Vase in Uzukumaru Style Muromachi Period
There are two kinds of uzukumaru style vessel which were mainly used as a flower vase: a type which looks like a person crouching down like this work, and a pot type. Originally, it was a vessel used as a teapot or oil pot in a farmhouse, but its austere beauty came to be prized by tea masters, and it was revered as a utensil in the tea ceremony. It is a type that is seen mostly as Iga-yaki and Shigaraki-yaki.
This work has a raised rim which is slightly folded back. It is interesting that the neck is tilted to the side, and the mouth is rather unsymmetrical with respect to the body. On the shoulder, there is a yukan (free-moving ring) to hang the vase on a peg, which is attached to the chrysanthemum-shaped pedestal.
2 Tang San Cai Incense Container, China, Tang Dynasty
Tang San Cai refers to San Cai pottery made around Chang’an Luoyang in the Tang Dynasty of China. It was mainly produced around the 8th century, and fired with glaze such as green, yellow, brown and indigo on the base.
This work is an incense container in 3 colors: green, brown, and part in unglazed white slip. Incense containers were small vessels with a lid for receiving incense, mainly made of ceramics or lacquerware, each of which was used according to the purpose. For ceramic incense containers like this work, kneaded incense balls are placed inside. It is usually used in the tea ceremony from November to April.
3 Old Bizen Tea Caddy Momoyama Period
Bizen ware is a pottery fired near Bizen City, Okayama Prefecture. The Bizen Kiln is also counted as one of the six old kilns in Japan (the others are the Seto, Tokoname, Echizen, Shigaraki, and Tamba-Tachikui kilns) that continued from the Middle Ages. Generally speaking, Bizen ware made before the beginning of the Edo period is called Old Bizen.
In Old Bizen, the texture of the unglazed base material, the sober colors and the reddish pattern that appeared by chance when it was fired in a kiln were highly appreciated by tea masters as being “austere”. These features are also well represented in this work, such as three lines carved on the protruding body, the rough base, and the red-colored pattern, which give it a well-endowed appearance.
4 Tea Bowl inscribed Atsumori
5 Tea Bowl inscribed Matsushima Yoshu Ware by Totaro Fujita Modern
This is a work by Totaro Fujita who continues to reproduce Shino-yaki which was fired in Mino (now the southern part of Gifu Prefecture) during the Momoyama era, and whose production had stopped since then. Shino-yaki is fired with a glaze made from feldspar, and its highlights are the small holes on a white surface, the iron pigment-like design, and changes in the surface color tone.
“Atsumori“, the inscription on Work 4, signifies Atsumori Taira in the late Heian era, and the story of the tragedy of this young warrior has been taken up in many later-day works of art. It is also well-known as the subject of a “Kowakamai” dance with narration, and it is said that the dance was liked by warriors such as Nobunaga Oda. The lyric, “human life is ephemeral, just like a dream” which is sung during the dance, is expressed in this work by gentle color tones as if it were covered by light snow.
“Matsushima”, the inscription on Work 5, is a small archipelago centered around Matsushima Bay, Miyagi prefecture, and is widely known as one of three scenic spots of Japan together with Amanohashidate in Kyoto-fu and Miyajima in Hiroshima Prefecture. It is known by the name Matsushima because the whole area is covered with black pines, and since long ago, was often depicted in literature and works of art on account of its scenic beauty. The powerful iron pigment pattern reminiscent of Matsushima’s pines is distinctive.