Did you know that we frequently change the works on view in our collection galleries? This season in the Japanese tearoom, you'll find tea utensils in the shape of a wooden bucket, a bamboo stalk, and even a frog.
Chado (the Way of Tea), sometimes called tea ceremony, has been central to Japanese culture and art since the 16th century. The host generally arranges a selection of utensils for a gathering based on a particular theme or season. This season in our tearoom, you will find a lacquer tea caddy decorated with mother-of-pearl (approx. 2010) by Japanese artist Yamamura Shinya, a charming frog-shaped silver container from Vietnam (1900–1950), and two ceramic pieces that allude to traditional vessels made from other materials — a Chinese Ming dynasty porcelain vessel in the shape of a wooden bucket (approx. 1570–1644) and a Japanese ceramic vase in the shape of a bamboo stalk (1925–1950) by Kitaoji Rosanjin.
The blue-and-white vessel in the shape of a wooden bucket, serving as a freshwater container (mizusashi), was made in China for export to Japan. Kitaoji Rosanjin’s (1883–1959) ceramic vase in the shape of a green bamboo stalk — a symbol of strength and flexibility — references the widespread use of hollow sections of bamboo as vases in tearooms. In addition to being an influential chef and restaurateur, Rosanjin was a multidisciplinary artist who was instrumental in reviving and elevating the status of traditional Japanese cuisine and tableware. The contemporary tea container by Tokyo-born lacquer artist Yamamura Shinya (b. 1960) made of wood, lacquer, mother-of-pearl, and gold is easy to spot by its multicolor, luminescent rhinoceros hide spiral pattern. Yamamura is known for his exacting process — all the more impressive due to the diminutive scale of his works — and innovative use of natural materials, which result in vessels with strikingly precise geometrical designs.
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Images: Tea container with rhinoceros hide spiral pattern, by Yamamura Shinya (Japanese, b. 1960). Wood, lacquer, mother-of-pearl, and gold. Asian Art Museum, Gift of Gordon Brodfuehrer, 2011.52.a-.b. © Yamamura Shinya. Photograph © Asian Art Museum. Frog-shaped Container, 1900–1950. Vietnam. Silver. Asian Art Museum, Bequest of Beryl H. Buck, B85M3. Photograph © Asian Art Museum.