- Museum number
- Object: Benizome hakkaku kaki 紅染八角花器 (Octagonal vase with benizome decoration)
Octagonal vase, tapering to base. Made of porcelain on the potter's wheel and decorated with underglaze blue and copper red in benizome technique. Maker's mark on base. With paulownia storage box.
- Production date
Diameter: 13.40 centimetres (footring)
Diameter: 21.20 millimetres
Height: 36.50 centimetres
- Curator's comments
- This vase was made in 2015 by the artist Shomura Ken for the British Museum. It was given by his main collector and close friend, Mr Ueno Hirofumi from Hiroshima. Mr Ueno visited the BM in 2015 and realised that we did not possess a ceramic by Shomura Ken in his signature ‘Dyed in Red’ style and he then commissioned Shomura to make one for the BM. The strongly potted work displays a remarkable glaze colouring of reds to pinks that flicker across the exterior of the vase.
Shomura Ken is renowned for his strong potting skills. Thought to be the top potter’s wheel ceramicist in Arita, this work showcases the skill. He comes from a family of potters working in Arita for many generations. He is the 5th generation head of the current kiln in the centre of Arita called Banko. Initially Shomura studied with Inoue Manji who was designated a Living National Treasure in 1995 for his white porcelain technique. The BM has a work by Inoue Manji (2002,0402.3). Shomura won the top prize in the Japan Traditional Art Craft Association in 1980.
Shomura since becoming head of his kiln has always taken a leading role among the Arita and Saga Prefectural ceramic artists encouraging them to make stronger more personalised works that demonstrate high levels of professional excellence. His work is no exception. This vase is incredibly difficult to form on a wheel. It is large and the porcelain clay used from Izumiyama is unwieldy and necessitated a thickly potted body. Shomura uses this to his advantage and forms his vase into an 8-sided work without the use of a mould. The work feels like it springs up from the base in a gently arching form. The patterns on the exterior resemble gently flickering flames in red, orange and pink. He calls this type of decoration that is unique to him beni-zome or dyed in red, after textile dyeing (blue works are called ai-zome).
This vase is visually compelling but it also tells the story of how materials and media influence each other in Japan. The porcelain design is influenced by textiles and the body of the work resembles domestic stoneware traditions in Japan, rather than more typical Arita porcelain that is normally made in reference to Jingdezhen forms.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2016 Oct–, London, BM, G94, 'Japan from Prehistory to the Present'
- Acquisition date
- Registration number