This monumental ceramic vase won first prize in 1899 at the craft exhibition sponsored by the Ministry of Commerce and Agriculture held in Tokyo. Following the first World Exposition organized in London in 1851, national and international craft and industrial exhibitions became a feature of the second half of the 19th century. Objects produced for these exhibitions sought to represent national artistic traditions, high technical achievement and a country's claim of industrial importance, commonly expressed by the large size of pieces.
All of these goals were achieved in this Sumida vase. The body is made of reddish unglazed clay with an overflowing milky green glaze on the jar's neck. The surface is covered by 500 relief figures of holy men called Rakan surrounding the seated Buddha. The Buddhist disciples are individually portrayed although all have shaved heads, long eyebrows, extended earlobes (often with earrings) and most wear the Buddhist cloak attached to one shoulder.
According to museum records, this vase was purchased from a Japanese art dealer in Atlantic City by one of George Walter Vincent Smith's friends, Susan E.P. Forbes, who then donated it to the Museum in 1904.
|Credit line||Gift of Susan E. P. Forbes|
|On Exhibit||Yes, G. W. V. Smith Art Museum, Japanese Decorative Arts Gallery|