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Square Serving Dish with Bail Handle
Japan, Gifu Prefecture; Momoyama period (1573-1615), late 16th century
Stoneware painted with iron brown on slip under glaze and a partial overlay of copper-green glaze (Mino ware, Oribe type)
H. 5 1/2 in. (14 cm)including handle; W. 8 1/8 in. (20.4 cm); D. 8 1/8 in. (20.4 cm)
Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection of Asian Art
A bold fashion statement in vibrant green and playful designs, this striking dish would have been used to serve a main course during the kaiseki part of the tea ceremony. The participants would have appreciated the keen, of-the-moment sensibility of their host -- often an affluent merchant -- for this style of ceramics was all the rage in early 17th-century Japan, especially in big cities like Kyoto and Osaka. Its name, Oribe, derives from that of a famous tea master, Furuta Oribe (1544-1615). Rather than evidence a direct patronage, such dishes reflect his preference for distinctive shapes and colors and quirky decorative patterns; the latter may also have been inspired by contemporary textile designs. The mold-formed square shape with a separately attached loop-handle, the combination of geometric and nature-inspired motifs, and especially the strategically splashed, bright green copper glaze, epitomize the individualism of Oribe ceramics, particularly one-of-a-kind pieces like this. Ironically, much of Oribe stoneware was mass-produced in multichambered, climbing kilns in the Mino region.
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