The vessel was hand-built according to the time-honored coiling method, to produce a bulbous body rising from a flat base so narrow that the jar appears almost completely rounded when viewed straight on. The neck is strongly constricted and slants outward to support a dish-shaped mouth whose walls tilt outward to the rounded lip rim. On one side of the smooth surface of the reddish-buff-colored earthenware, the color a result of the oxidation of iron in the clay during firing, dark charcoal-colored areas and lighter grey patches resulted from contact with fire and flame. Although considered storage containers, the scorch marks that are frequently present on the surfaces suggest that the vessels were also used for cooking.
The Yayoi culture—named after the area in Tokyo where remains of this culture were initially discovered—was characterized by a number of features, including the production of bronze (mirrors, bells and weapons) and an economy based on wet rice agriculture, and new styles of pottery, the impetus from these changes coming from the Asian mainland. The earthenwares of this period were created with an aesthetic at odds with the Jōmon pottery that precededed them. The style of very late Jōmon pottery, however, has suggested to some the possible internal evolution of the Yayoi style even if being very closely associated stylistically with Korean wares of the time.
1. A very similar vessel from the Mary Burke collection was published by Miyeko Murase in Jewel Rivers: Japanese Art from the Burke Collection, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, 1993, cat. no. 58, pp. 222-224 and also in Bridge of Dreams: The Mary Griggs Burke Collection of Japanese Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2000, cat. no. 2, p. 11. The vessel differs in the decorative embellishment of the dish-shaped mouth with applied clay strips.