Brown-glazed stoneware, Jian ware
Overall: 6.5 x 12 cm (2 9/16 x 4 3/4 in.)
Nancy F. and Joseph P. Keithley Collection Gift 2020.175
Jian ware was commonly associated with tea drinking and tasting, as the light color of tea contrasted nicely with the dark glazes of the ceramics.
Teabowls with incised characters are rare. The characters 供御 (gongyu; “imperial tribute”) incised on the base of this bowl suggest that it was local annual tribute ware presented to the court. The abrasions on its rim indicate the cup was originally mounted with a metal ring that has been removed. Teacups, occasionally dressed with metal bands to cover the rough, thinly glazed lip, enhanced the experience of tasting tea and rendered the bowl more precious and appealing. When steeped tea leaves were introduced in China, dark-glazed bowls fell out of favor, but such bowls continued to be treasured in Japan where powdered tea (matcha) remained popular.
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