Mukōzuke Dishes with Cicada Design

Mukōzuke Dishes with Cicada Design
Kotō ware, set of five; height 4.0 cm, width 16.0 cm; Edo period, 19th century; Gift of the Ii Family

A mukōzuke is used to serve a side dish with rice and soup as part of a kaiseki meal. The blue tinge of the white porcelain ground, a typical feature of Kotō ware, is thought to be due to the mixing into the glaze of a local stone quarried at Mushiyama Pass in Hikone’s Miyata-cho area, or possibly because of the iron-rich water at the kiln site. Each of the five dishes is decorated with a cicada on an osmanthus tree and formed in the simplified shape of a bat, an animal considered auspicious because one of the Chinese characters for “bat” is a homophone of the character for “happiness.”

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