This hand-built vase is modelled to resemble a cloth bag or pouch, flattened on the reverse with a metal bar extending at a right angle suspending a loose ring for hanging against a wall. The bright clear glaze allows for an uninterrupted view of a lad in a blue coat and white pantaloons approaching a gargantuan crab scuttling up two bamboo sprigs. Pendant triangular-shaped leaves are painted below the unglazed rim. On the back below the ring is a freely drawn orchid spray with a single blossom and long sinuous leaves.
The innovative and idiosyncratic porcelains produced for the Japanese during the late Ming period at a number of kilns at Jingdezhen often leave us breathless. Kosometsuke, the Japanese term for these underglaze-blue decorated wares imported from China, is populated with a range of shapes suitable for tea ceremony use, some explicitly requested by the Japanese patrons, others anticipating their off-the-beaten-track taste.
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