Glass in marbled color; H. 8 3/4 in. (22.2 cm)
Purchase, Friends of Asian Art Gifts, in honor of Douglas Dillon, 2001 (2001.58.1)
While glass was produced in Japan probably as early as the Yayoi period (ca. 4th century B.C.3rd century A.D.), primarily for glass beads used in a religious context, its production nearly ceased in Japan during the Kamakura era. The industry was revived in response to the appearance of European glass, brought by Portuguese and Dutch merchants in the sixteenth century. By the mid-nineteenth century, Japanese craftsmen produced glass that was clear, blue, green, and red, among other colors, in a wide variety of shapes, both of domestic and foreign inspiration, as represented by this small wine bottle. However, glass articles remained small and precious until modern techniques of mass production were adopted in the early twentieth century.
This bottle is of the type known as chalcedony, which was developed in Renaissance Venice. Production ceased in the eighteenth century, only to be revived in the mid-nineteenth. This example of chalcedony glassware reveals skill and artistry equal to that of European makers, although it was produced only shortly after the technique was introduced into Japan in the mid-1800s.