Sue ware jar

Jar: round bottom, short, slightly flaring neck with thickened lip, which is roughly chipped in several places. Body shape irregular with full rounded shoulder, a slight constriction past mid-section, then bulging to the rounded bottom. Numerous rough accretions on shoulder, probably from material falling from ceiling of anagama. Three roughly circular marks from kiln supports around 3/4 of the bottom. A fourth support may have been dislodged during kiln placement since a space exists, and the intention must have been to support the vessel all around. A large shard adhering by means of glaze on the body above this space seems to indicate that the piece, unsupported on that side, tipped against another. The kiln supports must have been angled to fit and hollow, at least on top, since the scars include sections of adhering rim, and the impression-marked body, unscarred, has slumped slightly in the enclosed areas. This formerly enclosed surface is a lighter clear gray, having been protected in the kiln.

Clay: High-fired stoneware, warm gray, coarse and rough in fracture, but smooth on the tool-marked surface where worked on by beating tools which smoothed and tightened. Beater marks of a type different from those on outside show on entire inner surface. A scar similar to the kiln-support marks is on center bottom inside.

Glaze: Natural ash glaze, transparent, greenish, on upper portions with numerous and long runs onto lower body, most terminating in a bead, one of which extends onto center bottom. Extra glaze seems to have been added (to that caused by the ash) by material dropping from ceiling of kiln. Glaze collected heavily where stopped by rims of kiln supports. Glaze runs down inside the neck and also formed on inside bottom from ash falling through mouth opening.

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Historical period(s)
Kofun (Tumulus) period, ca. 550-600
Medium
Stoneware clay with natural ash glaze
Style
Sue ware
Dimensions
H x W x D: 52.7 x 46.4 x 46.4 cm (20 3/4 x 18 1/4 x 18 1/4 in)
Geography
Japan
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Collection
Freer Gallery of Art Collection
Accession Number
F1976.2a-c
On View Location
Currently not on view
Classification(s)
Ceramic, Vessel
Type

Jar

Keywords
Japan, Kofun (Tumulus) Period (250 - 552 CE), stoneware, Sue ware
Provenance
Provenance research underway.
Description

Jar: round bottom, short, slightly flaring neck with thickened lip, which is roughly chipped in several places. Body shape irregular with full rounded shoulder, a slight constriction past mid-section, then bulging to the rounded bottom. Numerous rough accretions on shoulder, probably from material falling from ceiling of anagama. Three roughly circular marks from kiln supports around 3/4 of the bottom. A fourth support may have been dislodged during kiln placement since a space exists, and the intention must have been to support the vessel all around. A large shard adhering by means of glaze on the body above this space seems to indicate that the piece, unsupported on that side, tipped against another. The kiln supports must have been angled to fit and hollow, at least on top, since the scars include sections of adhering rim, and the impression-marked body, unscarred, has slumped slightly in the enclosed areas. This formerly enclosed surface is a lighter clear gray, having been protected in the kiln.

Clay: High-fired stoneware, warm gray, coarse and rough in fracture, but smooth on the tool-marked surface where worked on by beating tools which smoothed and tightened. Beater marks of a type different from those on outside show on entire inner surface. A scar similar to the kiln-support marks is on center bottom inside.

Glaze: Natural ash glaze, transparent, greenish, on upper portions with numerous and long runs onto lower body, most terminating in a bead, one of which extends onto center bottom. Extra glaze seems to have been added (to that caused by the ash) by material dropping from ceiling of kiln. Glaze collected heavily where stopped by rims of kiln supports. Glaze runs down inside the neck and also formed on inside bottom from ash falling through mouth opening.

Label

As the textured surface indicates, this jar was finished with the potter's tools called paddle and anvil. In addition, the jar's gray surface is the result of the firing procedure. A gray color resulted from the potter's attempt to ensure that the vessel would be nonporous for storing liquids. By restricting oxygen during the last stage of the firing, the potter created a smoky atmosphere that deposited carbon on the pot's surface, sealing the pores and causing the minerals in the clay to darken.

The  jar was fired to a temperature high enough to melt the wood ash that landed on its surface, creating a natural "glaze." Techniques for firing to a high temperature, using a kiln, were introduced to Japan from the Korean peninsula in the early fifth century. Before this innovation, Japanese potters made only low-temperature, porous earthenware. Nonporous pottery made with the new technology, known as sue ware, was the elite ceramic ware of the day and was buried among the grave offerings placed in tombs of nobility. The sue technology formed the basis for the later production of stoneware jars.

Published References
  • Martin P. Amt, Rob Barnard. In Praise of Feet. vol. 18, no. 2 Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts, June 1990. p. 24 and cover.
  • Julia Murray. A Decade of Discovery: Selected Acquisitions 1970-1980. Exh. cat. Washington, 1979. cat. 63, p. 85.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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