Eiraku ware tea ceremony water jar


a: Tea ceremony water jar (mizusashi); b: lacquered wooden lid.
Cylindrical, lacquer cover.
Clay: soft, light brown, stained on base with iron-oxide
Glaze: brilliant yellow, lightly crackled, with green on lip; interior – cream-white, crackled
Decoration: in gray under glaze, green, violet-gray, and red over glaze.
Seal. Eiraku, impressed on base.

Historical period(s)
Edo period, 1827-1843
Pottery with cobalt pigment under opaque white feldspathic glaze and enamels over glaze; lacquered wooden lid.
Kyoto ware
H x W x D: 17.8 x 17.9 x 17.9 cm (7 x 7 1/16 x 7 1/16 in)
Japan, Kyoto prefecture, Kyoto
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Tea ceremony water jar (mizusashi)

Kyoto ware

To 1898
Yamanaka & Company, to 1898 [1]

From 1898 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from Yamanaka & Company in 1898 [2]

From 1920
Freer Gallery of Art, gift of Charles Lang Freer in 1920 [3]


[1] See Original Pottery List, L. 97, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives. The majority of Charles Lang Freer’s purchases from Yamanaka & Company were made at its New York branch. Yamanaka & Company maintained branch offices, at various times, in Boston, Chicago, London, Peking, Shanghai, Osaka, Nara, and Kyoto. During the summer, the company also maintained seasonal locations in Newport, Bar Harbor, and Atlantic City.

[2] See note 1.

[3] The original deed of Charles Lang Freer's gift was signed in 1906. The collection was received in 1920 upon the completion of the Freer Gallery.


a: Tea ceremony water jar (mizusashi); b: lacquered wooden lid.
Cylindrical, lacquer cover.
Clay: soft, light brown, stained on base with iron-oxide
Glaze: brilliant yellow, lightly crackled, with green on lip; interior - cream-white, crackled
Decoration: in gray under glaze, green, violet-gray, and red over glaze.
Seal. Eiraku, impressed on base.


1. Bought from Yamanaka and Company. For price, see L. 97, original Pottery List.

2. Original attribution to Eiraku. See further, S.I. 893, Inventory, and Envelope File. (see note 5)

3. (C.L. Freer) Fairly good.

4. (E.S. Morse, 1921) Genuine Eiraku. It was Eiraku who went to Kaga and introduced the red in the glaze.

5. (H.E. Buckman, 1965) The Envelope File contained no further information, and has now been destroyed.

6. (L.A. Cort, 1983) After Japanese, add "Edo period, first half 19th cen." After "Eiraku," add "Hozen (1795-1854)."

See also 1899.88, 1901.47, 1901.93, 1906.33.

Together with Aoki Mokubei and Ninami Dohachi, Eiraku was one of three outstanding potters in 19th century Kyoto. Hozen was the 11th generation head of the famous Nishimura Zengoro [Jpn] line of clay brazier makers. As such, he had close ties with the three Senke [Jpn] tea schools and, unlike Mokubei's literati taste, followed the orthodox line of wabi chanoyu [Jpn] descended from Sen no Rikyu (1522-1591). Hozen's career as a potter began with making copies of famous pieces in the Senke collections. In 1827 he was summoned to the Kairakuen [Jpn] kiln operated by the Kii-shu branch of the Tokugawa house in Wakayama. He mastered such diverse styles as Kochi [Jpn] enamels, Ming styles of kinrande [Jpn], underglaze blue, and akae [Jpn], and Kyoto-style enamels (Nihon yakimono shusei vol. 5, pp. 117-118).

This mizusashi, with its brilliant green and yellow enamels, accented by aubergine and red, would appear to be an interpretation of a European ware--perhaps Majolica style.

After "clay" delete "heavy, dense, red" add: "soft, light brown, stained on base with iron-oxide." After decoration: change as follows: "in gray under glaze; green, violet-gray and red, over glaze."

7. (K. Nakanodo, National Museum of Modern Art Crafts Gallery, Tokyo; letter to Louise Cort, 9 July 1984) I consulted with the present generation Eiraku Zengoro concerning this piece. Judging from the glaze and the form of the seal, it is a work by Eiraku Hozen. For a piece by Hozen the workmanship is extremely unusual. Considering the soft clay body of the piece, it would seem to be a very early work of Eiraku.

8. (L.A. Cort, Kyoto Ceramics exhibition label, 1984) Together with Mokubei and Dohachi, Hozen was one of the three outstanding Kyoto potters of the early nineteenth century. His potter-forebears had specialized in earthenware braziers, but under the sponsorship of the three Senke tea schools, Hozen turned to replicas and interpretations of diverse sorts of glazed pottery and porcelain. This cheerful water jar is modelled on European Majolica-ware medicine jars, which Japanese tea masters used as tea utensils.

9. (L.A. Cort, 1985) The Asian interest in the medicine jar of albarello shape is represented elsewhere in the Freer collection by an early fifteenth-century Chinese porcelain version (1954.117) and by a nineteenth-century Kyoto version (modelled on the Delftware prototype) from the Kinkozan workshop (1899.77).

10. (L.A. Cort, 1985). Deleted water jar and added tea ceremony water jar (mizusashi). After seal added: Eiraku, impressed on base.

11. (L.A. Cort, 1986) A set of Chinese bronze tea ceremony utensils (kaigu) that once belonged to Sen no Rikyu and from which the ladle stand served as model for ceramic versions made by Eiraku Ryozen and Eiraku Hozen (1901.93) is published in Chado Shukin vol. 12, plate 214. The Chinese bronze water jar in that set can be seen to have served as the model for this ceramic jar, although the style of this jar is quite different in spirit from the ceramic ladle stand that faithfully replicates the finish and color of the bronze. From the bronze water jar Hozen took the servere cylindrical shape with everted rim, the division of the body into three tiers by prominent horizontal bands, and the ornamental motifs of raised hemispheres and ornamented leaf shapes facing downward in the top tier and upward in the bottom tier. Hozen omitted those motifs from the central tier, however, substituting for them a lively design of scrolling branches with leaves enclosing alternating pomegranates and birds. The color scheme is also transformed from the somber monochrome of the bronze vessel to the brilliant polychrome effect obtained through the use of low-temperature glazes.

12. (From an exhibition label, L.A. Cort, 1986, "Japanese Art.") Ceramic kilns operated by professional master potters flourished in Kyoto by the mid-17th century. Kyoto potters produced polished versions of provincial wares suited to a wealthy urban audience. One hallmark of such wares was the use of brilliant overglaze enamel colors. pieces by Ninsei (F1911.397) and Hozen typify the versatile and elegant work of the professional Kyoto potter throughout the Edo period.

13. (L.A. Cort, 1986, from an exhibition "Japanese Art.") For this water jar Hozen borrowed the form of a Chinese bronze vessel. Rather than replicate its somber color, however, he rendered the decor in a range of brilliant enamel paints.

14. (Kate Theimer, 13 December 1995) All information in this report as of this date was approved by Louise Cort.

15. (Yagi Akira, Kyoto ceramic artist; 28 Oct 1997) Feldspathic glaze. A break on the rim was repaired while the clay was still raw, before the piece was fired--that is, the repair was made by the maker.

16. (Louise A. Cort, 26 May 2000) Charles Freer's pencilled note on the Original Pottery List reads: "Fairly good. Used on table occasionally."

17. (H. Kaplan as per L. Cort, 2 July 2004) Medium changed from "Glazed clay" to "Pottery with cobalt pigment under opaque whitle feldpathic glaze, colored enamels over glaze; laquered wooden lid"; "Japan" added to Country; "Kyoto-fu" added to State/Province; "Kyoto" added to City.

18. (Louise Cort, 6 April 2006) Hozen used the "Eiraku" seal between 1827 and 1843 (see F1901.93 note 7). Changed Date from 1800-1850 to Second quarter of 19th century.
19. (Louise Cort, 10 October 2017) For clarity, changed Date from Second quarter of 19th century to 1827-1843.

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