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The Beauty of Pottery Shards

  • Image of "Ceramic Shards Excavated from Hizen Kiln Site, Hizen ware, Edo period, 17th century"

    Ceramic Shards Excavated from Hizen Kiln Site, Hizen ware, Edo period, 17th century

    Japanese Gallery (Honkan) Room 14
    October 4, 2011 (Tue) - December 4, 2011 (Sun)

    When ceramics are created, poorly-fired pieces and kiln implements are discarded at the kiln site. Shards of pottery excavated from these sites are an essential research source for identifying production areas and techniques. It can even be said that empirical, object-based research into the history of ceramics has advanced together with investigations of kiln sites.

    On the other hand, as ceramics are chemically stable they maintain their original colors and glazes even when buried underground. Excavations of kiln sites frequently reveal pottery shards with shapes, patterns and evidence of production techniques not seen in existing works that have been passed down the generations. These shards are "fragments of history", a history that has been forgotten over time.

    The Tokyo National Museum possesses pottery shards excavated from several kiln sites, but until now there has not been an opportunity to show them together. On display in this exhibition are shards excavated from the Yue kiln site and the Southern-Song-dynasty Jiaotanxia Imperial Kiln site in China, collected by Yonaiyama Tsuneo, a former Japanese consul of Hangzhou. Exhibits also include shards gathered from the ancient Hizen kiln site (in present-day Kyushu) by Mizumachi Wasaburo, a former researcher at the Kyoto Municipal Ceramics Laboratory, as well as shards found at Ninsei's kiln site in Omuro, Kyoto, by Ninagawa Hajime and others. We hope these pottery shards will help to evoke a real image of history.

Major works in this exhibition
* Works listed below are in the TNM Collection unless otherwise indicated.
Ceramic Shards From Hizen Kiln Site, Hizen ware, Azuchi-Momoyama - Edo period, 16th-19th century
Ceramic Shards From Omuro Kiln Site, Omuro ware, Excavated from Omuro Tatemachi, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto, Edo period, 17th century
Ceramic Shards From Yue Kiln Site, Yuezhou ware, Excavated from Yue Kiln Site at Shauglin Lake, Cixi City, Zhejiang Province, China, Tang - Northern Song dynasty, 9th-10th century, China
Ceramic Shards From Imperial Kiln Site, Guan ware, Excavated from Jiaotanxia Imperial Kiln Site, Hangzhou City, Zhejiang Province, China, Southern Song dynasty, 12th-13th century, China

Related Events

Japanese Gallery (Honkan) Room 14  October 25, 2011 (Tue)   14:00 - 14:30   RESERVE_DAY