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Ceramic Incense Container (Kogo)
by Nonomura Ninsei (active 1646-1690)

Length: 12.2 cm. (4 7/8 in.)
Width: 4.9 cm. (2 in.)
Depth: 2.7 cm. (7/8 in.)

Edo period
17th century

Inscribed: “Ninsei” 仁清.

Exhibited and published: Edo Zenki Tōji Meihoten, “Exhibition of Famous Treasures of Early Edo Period,” Goto Museum, Tokyo, 1961, no. 16; Kaikodo Journal XXXI (Spring 2015), no. 23.

The kogo is made in the form of a hagoita, a traditional Japanese badminton battledore. The cover is very finely enamelled with male and female courtiers garbed, coiffed and posed in a manner reviving centuries-past Fujiwara-period fashion. The pictorial composition itself references early emakimono or handscrolls such as those representing the Tales of Genji. A shuttlecock form is applied in relief to the top and serves as the grip for lifting the lid to reveal the handsomely enamelled interior and bed for the incense. The base of the kogo reveals the light buff-colored, refined stoneware lightly brushed with clear glaze and bearing an impressed seal reading “Ninsei.”

Ninsei, a dominant figure in 17th-century Kyoto ceramic production, was able to successfully absorb and creatively utilize the subjects, designs and aesthetics of textiles, lacquerware, paintings, and various tea-culture accoutrements that graced the world around him, and translated them into a ceramic language that would be spoken by Kyoto potters thereafter.




For a complete writeup with illustrated comparative material download the PDF.

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