Collection online


  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Description

    Tea-jar in globular form. High-fired pottery with natural ash glaze. Sanage ware. With lacquer-repaired chip on rim.

  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 10thC -12thC
  • Production place

  • Materials

  • Ware

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 24.5 centimetres
    • Diameter: 29.5 centimetres
    • Weight: 3.35 kilograms
    • Diameter: 11.3 centimetres (mouth)
    • Diameter: 16.4 centimetres (base)
  • Curator's comments

    The mountainous Sanage region, near present-day Nagoya, provided a white clay suitable for making fine quality, high-fired Sue type, wheel-turned pottery during the Nara and Heian periods. The ash glazes were green and yellowy brown, producing an effect somewhat similar to the highly prized Chinese deliberately glazed wares of the time. This piece has a lacquer repair to the rim, which might indicate its deliberate spoiling for use as an ossuary. (label copy, VH, 1999)Smith et al 1990

    In the Nara and early Heian periods the numerous kilns of Sanage (close to present-day Nagoya) were the main centre of production in Japan for high-quality ceramic wares. They were a continuation of the tradition of high-fired pottery, sometimes thrown on the wheel, which had flourished in the ceremonial Sue wares of the late Kofun period (F2213a, 2213d, 2213e, 2214, 2219,2219a, 2222, 2224g, 2225, 2226, 2227, 2228, 2231, 2234b, 2242, 2248, 2267a, 2268, OA+665). Sue had gradually come to capitalise on the natural glazes which could result from deposits of ash from the kiln itself, and in Sanage wares it became a norm which was to continue into the later medieval period. These glazes were greyish, brownish or yellowish, and helped establish the Japanese preference for sombre pottery which was to find its fullest expression in Tea Ceremony taste.

    Despite its relatively rough appearance to modern eyes, this piece must have been among the finest available at the time in Japan, when the technology of all-over coloured glazing of the Chinese was rarely attempted, though occasionally pieces were imported. Its crisp potting and stately shape suggest a piece for temple, shrine or court use. Indeed, similar examples complete with lids have been recovered from 'sutra-mounds' of the period, when they were used to hold religious relics or devotional objects.


  • Bibliography

    • Smith et al 1990 116 bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display

  • Exhibition history


    2009 1 May-20 Sep, Victoria, Royal BC Museum, Treasures of the World's Cultures
    2009 11 Dec-2010 10 May, Madrid, Canal de Isabel II, Treasures of the World's Cultures
    2012 18 Apr – 17 Jul, Abu Dhabi, Manarat Al Saadiyat, ‘Treasures of the World’s Cultures’

  • Acquisition date


  • Department


  • Registration number


COMPASS Title: Sanage ware ceremonial jar


COMPASS Title: Sanage ware ceremonial jar

Image description



If you’ve noticed a mistake or have any further information about this object, please email: 

View open data for this object with SPARQL endpoint

Object reference number: JCR11919

British Museum collection data is also available in the W3C open data standard, RDF, allowing it to join and relate to a growing body of linked data published by organisations around the world.

View this object

Support the Museum:
donate online

The Museum makes its collection database available to be used by scholars around the world. Donations will help support curatorial, documentation and digitisation projects.

About the database

The British Museum collection database is a work in progress. New records, updates and images are added every week.

More about the database 


Work on this database is supported by a range of sponsors, donors and volunteers.

More about supporters and how you
can help