Height: 42.800 cm
Gift of Sir A.W. Franks
Asia JA F493a
Rooms 92-94: Japan
Porcelain coffee pot
Edo period, late 17th century AD
The porcelain pot is decorated in underglaze blue and overglaze enamels. Though its shape is very western, it is brightly decorated with a scene depicting the seven Japanese Gods of Good Fortune in a setting of plum blossoms. Daikoku Ten, one of the two leading deities, sits on his rice bales brandishing his mallet (his faithful rat seems to be missing). The photograph also shows Fukurokuju, bottom right; Benzaiten, the goddess of wealth, good fortune and music playing her biwa with one of her attendants; Ebisu, god of fishermen with his carp; Hotei with his sack. Bishamon and Jūrōjin also appear on the pot.
The seven gods were popular in Japan throughout the Edo period (1600-1868) as a source of light-hearted amusement, although they had some serious devotees in rural districts. Pictures of them are still sometimes placed under pillows at New Year to bring prosperity in the coming year.
The coffee pot is fitted with a European metal spout in the hole provided by the potter.
L. Smith, V. Harris and T. Clark, Japanese art: masterpieces in (London, The British Museum Press, 1990)
S. Jenyns, Japanese porcelain (London, Faber and Faber, 1965)