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Sencha pitcher with stamped dragonfly design (pair w/ 1954/1.512)

Seifū Yohei III

Artwork Details

Sencha pitcher with stamped dragonfly design (pair w/ 1954/1.512)
circa 1893-1914
Seifū Yohei III
porcelain with clear glaze
2 1/16 in. x 3 1/16 in. x 4 5/8 in. ( 5.2 cm x 7.7 cm x 11.7 cm )
Bequest of Margaret Watson Parker

On Display

Not currently on display


Copies and Invention in East Asia (August 17, 2019 - January 5, 2020)
Among many new materials that Seifū Yohei III invented was a white porcelain clay he called Taihaku-ji (meaning “great white porcelain”). To create Taihaku-ji, he researched Chinese Dehua ware produced during the Ming dynasty (1368 – 1644), which was known for its thin body and milky-color glaze (4). Because of the high plasticity of the clay, Dehua ware was often used for religious sculptures and vessels with delicate low-relief decorations. He also studied the relief and incising techniques of elegant wares from imperial kilns of the Song dynasty (960–1279) (5). The small teapot and pitcher (2) are for sencha, the Chinesestyle tea ceremony in vogue among Japanese literati (artists who embraced the Chinese amateur-scholar artist tradition) in the nineteenth century. Yohei himself was a part of the literati circle in Kyoto, and accomplished at painting, calligraphy, and poetry. Knowing the taste of literati contributed to his great popularity among the intellectuals of the day.

One of the most famous ceramic artists working in Kyoto in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, Seifû Yohei commanded an extraordinary range of techniques. Here, he has carved dragonflies —traditionally associated with summer—on the paper-thin body of a teapot and pitcher. (See also 1954/1.512.) The effect is of dragonflies pausing on the smooth surface of a pond, enjoying a momentary escape from summer’s heat. This exquisite teapot and pitcher are intended for serving gyokuro, or “jade green,” the most delicate kind of green tea. Boiling water is first poured into the pitcher and allowed to cool slightly, before being added to the tea leaves in the teapot.
Maribeth Graybill
“Four Seasons In Japanese Art”: Special Installation of Japanese Gallery at UMMA: Object Labels
July 5, 2003-January 4, 2004

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