Shino ware cake dish
From Mino Province,
Edo period, 17th century AD
Pottery with cobalt-blue decoration under a crackled creamy glaze
During the Tea Ceremony a small very elegant cake is eaten before drinking the tea. The sweetness of the cake contrasts pleasantly with the bitterness of the tea. The Teamaster chooses an appropriate cake dish which in turn is admired by the guest as part of the ceremony.
This cake dish is of Shino ware, a name possibly derived from the name of the sixteenth century tea enthusiast, Shinosōshin. Shino ware was almost as highly prized by Teamasters as Raku ware. They admired the simple hand-made shapes and the unpredictable results produced by the thick glaze and the low-temperature firing, which produced uneven effects of texture and colouring. Shino differed from Raku in its light palette and the use of simple stylized decorative motifs. Here the decoration consists of a single reed and a roughly sketched border design. Compare this cake dish with an Ofuke ware water pitcher, where the glaze has been painted on: here the dish was dipped into the glaze, producing a less predictable result.
L. Smith, V. Harris and T. Clark, Japanese art: masterpieces in (London, The British Museum Press, 1990)