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Kendi (ewer) produced for the south-east Asian market. Porcelain with underglaze cobalt blue design with a metal cap and a short chain on the spout. Early Hizen ware.
- Production date
Height: 22.50 centimetres
- Curator's comments
Kendi (ewer) with a metal cap and chain on the spout
Kendi ewers were made to hold and pour drinking water. This is an early example of a vessel made exclusively for export to Southeast Asia at the new vporcelain-producing kilns of Arita, Japan. Its shape is modelled on an earthenware version made in Thailand.
One of the Thai earthenware kendi has been excavated at Nagasaki, and a Japanese kendi similar to the one on display has been found at a site in Indonesia.
These finds reveal that there were active trading networks between Japan and Southeast Asia in the 1600s and 1700s.
Porcelain with underglaze cobalt blue decoration, Tengudani klin, Arita, Japan, about 1650s
Purchased funded by the JTI JApanese Acquisition fund.
(Label Copy, 2017)
Kendi were used in Southeast Asia for hand washing and pouring water. They were not used in Japan, but made in the Arita kilns for export to SE Asia from the 1650s through the 18th century. This Kendi was fired in the Tengudani kiln in Arita c.1650 and most likely exported by the Chinese traders in Nagasaki to Vietnam. It was then acquired in Vietnam during the French colonial period and brought to France.
While excavated examples of this type of kendi exist, this is a rare early example of a kendi passed down in good condition and not sourced from an archaeological or shipwreck site.
There are two main styles of Kendi that were produced in Japan, one based on the 15th century Southeast Asian prototypes and another style based on Chinese adaptations mostly produced in Jingdezhen kilns. This Kendi is an example of the former. An important Vietnamese Kendi from the Chu Dau kilns dating to 1440-60s acquisitioned by the BM (2009,3014.2) provides the prototype for this particular Japanese Hizen Kendi for the Southeast Asian market. Other examples include a Southeast Asian earthen ware kendi (ewer) excavated in Nagasaki dating from the late 16th century and an early 17th century Kendi from the Nakhon Si Thammarat National Museum. A Japanese overglaze enamel decorated Kendi from Tengudani kiln has been excavated from the Banten Rama site in Indonesia circa 1660-70.
- On display (G93/dc7/sG)
- Exhibition history
April 2017 BM Japanese Galleries, 'Japan from Prehistory to the Present'
- The Kendi is in good condition, it has many small firing faults within the glaze which do not deter from the overall visual appearance. Where the spout attaches to the body of the Kendi there is a larger firing crack on the upper join. This is discoloured with either dirt, ( or possibly a filling material this can be identified with closer examination in the Conservation lab). There are two small chips on the underneath of the rim. The Objects is dirty and would benefit from being cleaned.
The metal cap has one or two petals /teeth missing and the chain is attached with a very thin piece of wire (later attachment). Pippa Pearce (metals conservator) has looked at the photograph of the Kendi and suggested,that that if required a more aesthetic replacement mental ring could be made.
- Acquisition date
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