Tea Kettle with Ribs


Tea Kettle with Ribs

metalwork / Muromachi


Muromachi period, 16th century


This is an iron kettle used to boil water for the tea ceremony. The overall form of this kettle is flattened, as if it has been compressed from above, with four ridges arranged like steps on the upper part of its body, giving it an innovative form. The protrusions on either side of its body have holes for attaching a ring to lift the kettle. These protrusions are angular, like the ridges, demonstrating a clear harmony of form. The entire surface of the kettle is uneven and rich in rustic beauty. Based on its form and texture, this kettle is thought to have been made in the Tenmyō region of what is now Sano City in Tochigi Prefecture.

Tenmyō tea kettles became popular brand-name products around the 16th century, slightly later than those made in the Ashiya region of northern Fukuoka Prefecture. Like Ashiya, the Tenmyō region had a history of casting a variety of metal tools by pouring molten metal into molds. There was, however, a sharp contrast between the features of the kettles created in these two regions. Ashiya kettles are distinguished by their plain, round shapes with rich designs and smooth textures. Tenmyō kettles, on the other hand, came in a rich variety of shapes, and their surfaces were rough and rarely decorated with designs. This kettle is a typical example of Tenmyō tea kettles.

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