Eiraku Ware

5” h. 2½” w.

(Displayed on wooden base)

Eiraku ware was started by a potter named Nishimura Soin, familiarly called Zergoro, in 1540. He was the official potter of the Kasuga Shrine at Nara where he became famous for making unglazed earthenware utensils at the shrine, particularly earthenware “furo” or receptacles for holding charcoal fire. Every succeeding generation of the master potters of this line used the name Zengoro and continued the family occupation of making furo, the secret of which was handed down from generation to generation.

It was Zengoro Hozen, the 11th generation of this family who decided to diversify and made every effort to master the secrets of the porcelains of the Ming Dynasty of China. After many years of arduous work, he succeeded and became recognized for his copies of Ming ceramics. He made diverse wares, among them Cochin China pottery decorated with green, purple and yellow glazes in which the colors are kept separated from running into one another by the raised outline of the decorative design.Tokugawa, Lord of Kishu, was so fond of Hozen’s productions that he game him the name of Eiraku, written on a silver seal. This name has become world famous. Eiraku is the Japanese pronunciation of the name of a Ming emperor, Yung Lo, in whose reign (1403-1424) in China this type of porcelain was first produced, and the implied meaning was that Hozen’s work was equally as good as the Chinese productions. The potters of this line who followed continue to use this trade name, along with their individual artist-names.

“Eiraku ware” today means a rather fragile ware decorated in brilliant opaque glazes of egg-yolk yellow, turquoise blue, grass green and a bluish-purple. The glazes are soft looking enamel glazes and the designs are raised above the surface of the ground, much resembling cloisonné designs. Our vase is a good example. It is based on the pottery of Cochin China. Among Eiraku ware, this type is easily recognizable but rarely seen. Even though it is a Japanese ware based on ancient Chinese pottery model, it could be produced only in Japan as an Eiraku ware, truly in form, feeling and style of decoration.

This piece has the prestige of a recognized “Great Japan Eiraku Made” Eiraku seal on the bottom. This vase is quite rare.