EDO PERIOD, 17TH CENTURY
TEA JARS AND FLOWER ARRANGEMENTS
a pair of six-panel screens: ink, colour and gold, later mounted on paper and mounted on gold leaf
177 x 375 cm., 69⅝ x 147¾ in.
Six tea-storage jars and six floral arrangements are depicted in alternating panels on this pair of folding screens, with seals Hogen.
The six tea-storage jars represented here reflect the transition from the opulence of the Momoyama Period to the rustic aesthetic promoted by early Edo period tea masters. On the left screen, the jar to the far left is an imported Chinese storage jar of the ‘Luzon’ type, typically made for export to the Philippine archipelago. It has strong wide shoulders with a relatively small base and is glazed twice with unglazed portions visible and is stamped with a Chinese character meaning ‘lotus flower king.’ The woven silk cord netting covering the surface of the jar is designed to protect the surface from accidental bumps. The centre jar of this screen is covered in brocade wrapping decorated with paulownia crests. The shoulder is rounded and it could be considered an early import as well. The jar on the right has extremely wide shoulders and is glazed twice. It is also shown with an ornamental net bag and was probably imported at a slightly later date. The jar on the left of the right screen is Japanese Shigaraki ware known as a senbei (rice cracker) jar. It can be dated to the late Momoyama–early Edo period. The centre jar represents the rustic Japanese taste; shown in a two-tone net bag, it has a gently rounded shape and is partly unglazed on the shoulder. On the right is a jar that is eggplant-shaped and encased in a brocade wrap decorated with gold clouds.
The six flower baskets depicted on the alternating panels, again following the order from left to right, are also imports from southern China. On the far left is a gilt basket containing rare small roses, known to have been brought to Japan from China during the Muromachi period (1392–1573), and white narcissus. The arrangement in the center of this screen features a three-legged gilt bronze planter containing white heron orchids; and on the right is a gilt tripod basket containing white lotus blossoms. On the left of the right screen is a gilt basket containing morning glory and chrysanthemum. The centre displays a gilt basket containing an unidentified flower; and on the right a tall-necked gilt basket with the “Three Friends of Winter”—pine, plum, and bamboo—is featured. Here, however, the pine has been substituted with red camellia.
The progression of tea-storage jars shown on the screens—from the imported ‘Luzon’ jar to the domestically produced Shigaraki jar—illustrates the changing taste in tea accoutrements, from the lavishness of the Momoyama period to the more simplified aesthetic preferred during the Edo period.