Edo Period Sake Ewers

"Seven Wise Men of the Bamboo Grove"

Inv. Nr. #18.012
Date Edo period, 19th C.
Material Cast iron, lacquered wood and gold
Dimensions each H 16,5  x W 11,7 x L 18,5 cm

Comes with old original inscribed wooden box.

A pair of two cast iron sake ewers (chōshi 銚子) with bamboo decor. The two perfect maki-e lids are properly decorated with the "Seven Wise Men of the Bamboo Grove" (Chikurin no shichiken 竹林七賢). The Seven Wise Men were a group of Chinese scholars, writers and musicians in 3rd century China. Traditionally, it is an emblematic topic of the literati who wished to enjoy personal freedom, the arts and an idealized rustic life far away from the corrupted and stifling atmosphere of court life. Therefore, it is symbol for the celebration of nature strongly connected with moral purity, which gained popularity in China as well as in Japan.

These sake ewers were made of cast iron and are decorated with an abstract bamboo pattern on the outside. Such kettles are used to heat sake up and serve it warm in the cold season. The style of the figures on the lid draw its inspiration from classic 16th century Kanō school painting models. Each lid is depicting four people - four on the one and three and a young boy attendant on the other - who are either reading poems or enjoying themselves in the natural setting. All figures are dressed in richly decorated Chinese robes with finely sprinkled, cut and painted gold details.