Water Jar for Tea Ceremony

Japan, Mie Prefecture
Momoyama to Edo period, late 16th-early 17th century
Stoneware with impresses design under glaze (Iga ware)
9 1/2 x 7 1/4 x 7 1/4 in. (24.1 x 18.4 x 18.4 cm) with cover; 1979.224a,b

Artist Comments

Beth Forer
This water jar is one of the few ceramic pieces in the Rockefeller Collection that acknowledges that clay starts out malleable. We see the potter's fingers in the throwing rings and in the soft walls transformed from round into square. We see the distortion caused by the stamped impression on the still wet wall. On other pieces in the collection, just as the potter's hand is hidden, traces of the fire are also missing: no drips, no ash, no iron spots to mar the well-controlled surface. In this example, however, the fire is an active collaborator. A potter sets up the conditions for clay to burn or glaze to flow yet cannot control the precise results. The fire alone pulls out variations of surface, texture, and color from the clay and glaze. This piece is as much about process as result.

Tan Dun
A Re-Departure on the Past

In the process of choosing these objects,
I have reflected on the experience of drinking these three spirits as one--composing.

Wine: ritual
Tea: mind
Water: eternity

With wine comes both sorrow and cheer. With tea comes both the bitter and sweet. With water comes the complexity of life and transparency.

Which one is the hardest to drink?
Water, tea, or wine?

To me, water is the most difficult to taste--
An endless mirror

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