Japan, 19th century
Covered tea bowls
Painted and gilded earthenware, Satsuma type, height 27, diameter 9
Bequest of Wolf Ladejinsky, Washington, DC,
through the America-Israel Cultural Foundation
These bowls and lids are meticulously painted with depictions of the hundred most famous Japanese poets and poetesses. The minute calligraphy on the inside of the bowls offers examples of their writings – Hyakunin isshu (One Hundred Poets, One Poem Each).
Named after the district in Japan where it is produced, Satsuma earthenware is a highly decorative enameled and gilded type of ceramic. It is covered with a creamy, finely crackled glaze that serves as the background for minutely painted scenes, highlighted with extravagant gilding.