Flame and water pots:
prehistoric ceramic art from Japan

4 October 2012 – 20 January 2013

Exhibition closed

The Asahi Shimbun Displays
Objects in focus

Supported by

Recommend this exhibition

A display of three pots made by the Jōmon people – a culture which produced some of the oldest pottery in the world.

The display will feature three 'flame' and 'water' pots from ancient Japan. The pots are between 5,000 and 7,000 years old and are from one of the oldest ceramic cultures in the world. Loans of two pots from Nagaoka City in the Niigata prefecture in Japan will sit alongside the Museum’s own Jōmon pot which was featured in the British Museum and BBC Radio 4 series A History of the World in 100 Objects.

The Jōmon people lived in Japan around 16,000 to 2,500 years ago. The term 'Jōmon' means ‘cord-marked’ in Japanese, and is derived from the decorative markings on the pottery. More and more is being discovered about Jōmon origins and culture, and the extraordinary surviving examples of their pottery have sparked huge interest around the world.

The pots themselves were made for a number of reasons and are both functional and aesthetically beautiful. The display will look at some of the imagery and symbolism on the pots, and will try to provide an insight into this mysterious culture from the distant past. It will also demonstrate how Jōmon pots have been an inspiration to modern Japanese culture with references in music, manga, modern art and even manhole cover design.

Earthenware flame pot. Japan, c. 3000 BC

Earthenware flame pot. Japan, c. 3000 BC. Nagaoka Municipal Science Museum, Niigata Prefecture, Japan.