Pail‑shaped freshwater jar (Onioke mizusashi)


On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 202

During the sixteenth century, when the foundations of the Japanese-style tea culture (wabicha) were formed, tea master Takeno Jōō began using simple, rough Shigaraki ware in the tea room. One of the vessels he adopted as a freshwater jar was a Shigaraki container known as an onioke (devil’s bucket) and thought to have been used in the Ōmi area to process hemp or ramie stalks into thread. When Shigaraki clay is fired without glaze, it turns a range of shades, from golden-orange to ruddy brown, its tawny surface flecked with white grains of feldspar. Wood ash melting onto the vessels during wood-firing could create irregular patches of greenish-blue natural glaze. Western potters, such as Paul Chaleff, were inspired by the seemingly random effects of the wood-fired kiln.

Pail‑shaped freshwater jar (Onioke mizusashi), Stoneware with natural ash glaze (Shigaraki ware), Japan

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