Old Tanba Sanshō Jar

Edo Period, early 17th Century

Inv. Nr. #21.024
Date Edo period (1603-1868), early 17th C.
Material Ash glazed stoneware
Dimensions H 29,0 x Diam. 21,0 cm

Price: EUR 12,000

Very rare early Edo period storage jar from Sasayama in today’s Hyōgo prefecture. With its sharp-angled shoulders, its broad, flat base and slightly narrowed body, this jar illustrates a Japanese type of storage jars that was invented by Tanba potters for the promotion and export for one of the local famous goods, known as asakura sanshō, or “Japanese pepper”. Asakura sanshō (Zanthoxylum piperitum var. inerme) is a local variation of common Japanese pepper, that is closely related to Chinese Szechuan pepper.


However, asakura sanshō only grew wildly in the mountains of the Hyōgo prefecture and gained popularity throughout Japan for its fresh and bright aroma since the late 16th century. The importance of this local product is highlighted by the impressed characters on the vessel’s wall, referring to its content. It shows that the production of the vessel had only one purpose and it is assumed that the jars with the impressed product name were presented to the local Daimyō or even to the Shōgun.


Only few Tanba jars with the impressed characters "asakura sanshō" are existing today and none of the known examples are of the kind shown here. Another similar jar of the same type, however without impressed characters, is also presented by Galerie Kommoss under the inventory number 18.017.