Miyaō Tea Container

Miyaō Tea Container
Height 9.6 cm, mouth diameter 4.6 cm; China, Song dynasty, 12th century
Ōmeibutsu; Gift of the Ii Family

This square-shouldered (katatsuki) tea container is used when serving koicha, or thick matcha tea. It has been prized since before the time of Sen no Rikyū, giving it the prestigious status of ōmeibutsu, and is thought to have formerly been in the possession of eighth Ashikaga shogun Yoshimasa (1436–1490). The container’s name derives from later owner Miyaō Saburō Dayū (d. 1553), Rikyū’s utai (noh recitation) teacher. Eventually it came into the possession of Tokugawa Ieyasu, who gave it to second daimyo Ii Naotaka in recognition of meritorious service in defeating the defenders of Osaka Castle in 1615. Thin grooves encircle the shoulder and middle of the large, rounded body, which features a black amber glaze applied over a purplish-brown glaze.

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