Tea Bowl

ARTIST / MAKER: Kozan (maker)
DATE: 19th century (made)
PLACE: Japan (made)
MATERIALS AND TECHNIQUES: Earthenware painted in enamels and gilt

Towards the end of the 19th century, Japanese potters were developing new shapes and decoration in order to accommodate Western tastes and compete with the international market. This bowl was made for export and although it conforms to the traditional shape of a Japanese tea bowl, the decoration is elaborate and some elements, such as the borders on the rim and foot, are Westernised. The interior of the bowl is intricately painted with figures watching a sumo wrestle at the base of the bowl, while the exterior is decorated with various figural scenes set within cartouches. The style of this tea bowl is known as Satsuma and is characterised by elaborately decorated and gilt earthenware. Japan was eager to promote Satsuma wares and discovered that the large international exhibitions in Europe and America in the second half of the 19th century were an ideal opportunity to exhibit its products. Japan organised its first display for the Exposition Universelle of 1867 where Satsuma exhibited a wide variety of objects. The success of the 1867 display initiated a great vogue for highly decorated Satsuma ceramics in the West. They became so fashionable that other potteries in Japan began to copy them.