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Title:Jar (Tsubo) with Chrysanthemums
Period:Kamakura period (1185–1333)
Date:late 13th–early 14th century
Medium:Ash-glazed stoneware with stamped decoration (Ko-Seto ware)
Dimensions:H. 10 1/8 in. (25.7 cm); Diam. 9 7/8 in. (25.1 cm); Diam. of rim: 4 7/8 in. (12.4 cm); Diam. of base: 5 in. (12.7 cm)
Credit Line:Mary Griggs Burke Collection, Gift of the Mary and Jackson Burke Foundation, 2015
The Seto region, northeast of Nagoya, holds a distinguished place in the history of the ceramics industry in Japan. More than five hundred kiln sites are located just outside the city of Seto, where potters' kilns have been active since the Heian period in the late tenth century, when they produced Sueki (cat. no. 4). So successfully have these kilns functioned over the centuries that in eastern Japan the word "Seto" has become synonymous with ceramics, which are even today referred to as Seto mono (Seto things).
It was long believed that in 1223 a certain Kato Tashirō accompanied the venerable Zen Buddhist monk Dōgen (1200–1253) to China, where he spent five years studying the art of the potter. Several years after his return, in 1243, he is said to have found in Seto a clay particularly suited to forming complex shapes. This story is generally discredited today, though it is undeniable that Seto kilns experienced a burst of activity in the thirteenth century, when they began producing new wares, based on Chinese prototypes, that were innovative in shape and glazing techniques. It has been speculated that the Kamakura bakufu may have played a role in this revitalization.
Among the new wares produced were Japan's first high-fired, intentionally glazed earthenwares. These were further enriched by a variety of decorative designs, including appliqués and stamped or engraved patterns, so different from the haphazard ornamentation sometimes found on Heian-period wares. The new ceramics were among the most elegant and sophisticated works produced by the so-called Six Old Kilns of the medieval period: Seto, Bizen, Echizen, Shigaraki, Tanba, and Tokoname. Seto wares of the Kamakura through the early Edo period are usually called Ko Seto (OId Seto), to distinguish them from later products.
This jar, though probably made for storage, may have been used as a funerary vessel. Many similar ceramic pieces have been found in tombs, where they served as containers for the bones of the deceased. The Burke jar has a wide, slightly flared mouth and a flat base. The shape, which is broad and almost bulbous at the shoulder and tapers toward the bottom in a slow, graceful curve, imparts an overall sense of stability and solidity. The yellow-green glaze reflects the refinement of Japanese glazing techniques that were developed at the end of the thirteenth century. Chrysanthemum motifs are stamped over the entire surface, although the impressions on the lower half are not easily visible because the glaze has darkened over time. Streaks and spots of dark blue—in this instance, accidentally formed natural-ash glaze—create dramatic variations of color.
Ceramic vessels with wide mouths first appeared in the late thirteenth century. This characteristic, as well as the stamped designs, indicates that the piece was made at the height of Ko Seto production. It therefore dates to sometime between the late thirteenth and the early fourteenth century.
[Miyeko Murase 2000, Bridge of Dreams]
 Tokyo National Museum 1985b, p. 116.  This designation is no longer used, as other major kilns have been identified in recent excavations.  Tokyo National Museum 1985b, p. 117.  Fujisawa Yoshisuke 1982, pp. 29–56.
Mary and Jackson Burke Foundation , New York (until 2015; donated to MMA)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Japanese Art: Selections from the Mary and Jackson Burke Collection," November 7, 1975–January 4, 1976.
Seattle Art Museum. "Japanese Art: Selections from the Mary and Jackson Burke Collection," March 10–May 1, 1977.
Minneapolis Institute of Arts. "Japanese Art: Selections from the Mary and Jackson Burke Collection," June 1–July 17, 1977.
Southampton. Parrish Art Museum. "Japanese Ceramics: From Prehistoric Times to the Present," August 5, 1978–September 24, 1978.
Tokyo National Museum. "Nihon bijutsu meihin ten: nyūyōku bāku korekushon," May 21, 1985–June 30, 1985.
Nagoya City Art Museum. "Nihon bijutsu meihin ten: nyūyōku bāku korekushon," August 17, 1985–September 23, 1985.
Atami. MOA Museum of Art. "Nihon bijutsu meihin ten: nyūyōku bāku korekushon," September 29, 1985–October 27, 1985.
Hamamatsu City Museum of Art. "Nihon bijutsu meihin ten: nyūyōku bāku korekushon," November 12, 1985–December 1, 1985.
New York. Asia Society. "Art of Japan: Selections from the Burke Collection, pts. I and II," October 2, 1986–February 22, 1987.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Seasonal Pleasures in Japanese Art (Part One)," October 12, 1995–April 28, 1996.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Seasonal Pleasures in Japanese Art, Part II," May 1–September 8, 1996.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Masterpieces of Japanese Art from The Mary Griggs Burke Collection," March 30–June 25, 2000.
Museum of Fine Arts, Gifu. "Enduring Legacy of Japanese Art: The Mary Griggs Burke Collection," July 5, 2005–August 19, 2005.
Hiroshima Prefectural Art Museum. "Enduring Legacy of Japanese Art: The Mary Griggs Burke Collection," October 4, 2005–December 11, 2005.
Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum. "Enduring Legacy of Japanese Art: The Mary Griggs Burke Collection," January 24, 2006–March 5, 2006.
Miho Museum. "Enduring Legacy of Japanese Art: The Mary Griggs Burke Collection," March 15, 2006–June 11, 2006.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Celebrating the Arts of Japan: The Mary Griggs Burke Collection," October 20, 2015–May 14, 2017.
Tsuji Nobuo 辻惟雄, Mary Griggs Burke, Nihon Keizai Shinbunsha 日本経済新聞社, and Gifu-ken Bijutsukan 岐阜県美術館. Nyūyōku Bāku korekushon-ten: Nihon no bi sanzennen no kagayaki ニューヨーク・バーク・コレクション展 : 日本の美三千年の輝き(Enduring legacy of Japanese art: The Mary Griggs Burke collection). Exh. cat. [Tokyo]: Nihon Keizai Shinbunsha, 2005, p. 73, cat. no. 17.
Murase, Miyeko, Il Kim, Shi-yee Liu, Gratia W. Nakahashi, Stephanie Wada, Soyoung Lee, and David Ake Sensabaugh. Art Through a Lifetime: The Mary Griggs Burke Collection. Vol. 2, Japanese Objects, Korean Art, Chinese Art. [New York]: Mary and Jackson Burke Foundation, , p. 29, cat. no. 586.
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