Deep Vessel with Handles

Period: Middle Jomon period (ca. 3500–2500 B.C.)

Culture: Japan

Medium: Earthenware with cord-marked and incised decoration

Dimensions: H. 13 in. (33 cm)

Classification: Ceramics

Credit Line: Gift of Florence and Herbert Irving, 1992

Accession Number: 1992.252.1


The swirling, dynamic appearance of the rim of this deep bowl is one of the most recognizable characteristics of wares made during Japan's oldest known civilization, the Jomon. Forming a dramatic contrast to the flamboyant ornamentation along the top is the relatively simple cord-marked lower portion of the vessel. Although most of the pottery containers made during this period were cooking vessels, the eccentric, irregular shape of the rim on bowls of this kind does not appear to be suitable for practical use and may have served a ritual function.

This deep bowl was built up with coils of clay that were then smoothed by hand and with paddles. Clay coils and the movement of the potter's fingers formed the undulating "fire-flame" design that decorates the rim. The lower portion of the bowl was impressed while still soft with a length of rough cord wrapped around a stick to create the textured pattern. After the bowl was fully formed, it was fired in an open pit.