Pot with an Opening for Pouring: "Sue" Stoneware


Pot with an Opening for Pouring: "Sue" Stoneware

Archaeology / Kofun

Place excavated:Found at Ōtsukayama Tumulus, Chiba

Kofun period, 5th century


現存高18.3 胴部最大径16.7


Around the 5th century, during the mid-Kofun period, new earthenware technologies arrived in Japan from the Korean Peninsula. The pottery they produced is known as sue stoneware. Before then, Japanese earthenware had mainly taken the form of haji earthenware. This was fired in the open air at low temperatures, so it was comparatively brittle and permeable. In contrast, sue stoneware was fired in kilns at high temperatures, thus making it more durable and suitable for carrying liquids. It is believed both types of pottery were used during the Kofun period for different tasks.

This is a sue-stoneware vessel used for holding liquids. It is equipped with a hole, but it would have been difficult to pour liquid directly from it, so it is thought that a cylindrical part made of bamboo was inserted into the holes to facilitate pouring. The Japanese name for this type of vessel is derived from mentions in ancient literature. These vessels came in many shapes and forms. Jar-shaped vessels like this were the most common, but some early examples were also shaped like barrels. As time passed, the necks grew longer and the mouths wider. Some even have mouths larger than the actual body. From discoveries of tomb sculptures resembling priestesses reverently holding this type of vessel, it seems these vessels gradually lost their everyday functions to become sacred objects used in rituals or ceremonies held at burial tombs.

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