This Japanese Mino Ware Pottery censer is of a very unusual and rare form as the artist's rendition of Hōju 宝珠, or the Wish Granting Jewel. censer is the name for incense burner. This piece is handmade, hand formed and tooled with great artistry detail in sukashi or open work. While we see this more often in porcelain, it is unusual to see in hand tooled pottery. It is hand glazed in multiple layers creating a unique effect that changes with movement and lighting. It is quite extraordinary, and the colors are as if the potter was trying to replicate patina on metal ware.
I was looking to see if it represented a larger sculpture, with the flame design on top, and pondering why I could not find such a thing, ran across a very lavish samurai helmet with flames on top representing the wish granting jewel, and realized we had recently had another piece in the same motif. The long name as discussed at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts is 'Mani hoju mandara zushi-e', written 摩尼宝珠曼荼羅厨子絵. More specifically in Japanese mythology, it represents 'the jewel that removes misfortune'. This hoju jewel signifies the bestowal of blessings on all who suffer, for it grants wishes, pacifies desires, and brings clear understanding of the Dharma or Buddhist law. The hoju is said to resemble the onion domes seen in Western or Baltic cultures. Now, with the flame on top and the sphere, along with the unusual feet or kodai on the bottom similar to the cube of the original hoju, and this onion dome described, it all comes together.
This fine and unusual piece is about 30-40 years old according to the Japanese dealer. The Mino Ware name is inscribed on the bottom. It is in very good condition with no visible chips or cracks. It is not a small incense burner. Please see more below about the Mino ware history. censer also make great decorative or collectors items. It is a beautiful and stunning piece.
SIZE: Height 5.2" or 13.3cm, Diameter at widest 3.9" or 9.8cm
Mino 美濃 ware or Mino-yaki
There is a much longer history of Mino ware on the Japanese site Explore Japanese Ceramics; much too long to share here. Excerpts:
The Earliest Days
In Tounou, the southwestern area in Gifu Prefecture, the manufacture of pottery through kilns started from the early Kofun, or Tumulus, Era of the 7th century; such pottery was called Sue Ware, or Sue-ki, and were fired in underground kilns carved into mountain slopes called anagama.
And, Why we sometimes hear, 'Mino, Shino, and Oribe Ware'. The blending of pottery in Japan, excerpt- it dates back to after the 16th century and civil war in Japan:
The Mino 美濃 pottery was founded by Katō Yosabei, whose sons started other potteries in the vicinity, notably that under the aegis of the tea master Furuta Oribe Masashige. New kilns were also built elsewhere, and pottery, while retaining its importance in the tea ceremony, became much more widely used for ordinary purposes. The inspiration for most of its shapes and designs came from the Mino region. The later wares of these kilns are much less austere than those attributed to the Muromachi period, since the cult of the tea ceremony, now widespread, had lost something of its earlier simplicity. Characteristic tea ceremony wares of the early years of the 17th century are Shino, which has a thick, crackled glaze and is sometimes summarily painted in blue or brown; yellow Seto (ki-Seto), whose crackled yellow glaze covers a stoneware body.
Mino Kilns Today written in 2009
From the opening of Ceramic Park MINO as the core facility in 2002, there has been coordination amongst other facilities connected with ceramic and porcelain goods within the city such as Tajimi workshops, the Gifu Prefecture Ceramic and Porcelain Museum, the Ichinokura Sakazuki Art Gallery and the beginning of a children's Ceramics Museum. In addition, from development of the main town and Ichinokura Oribe Street to spread the attraction of the existing historic streets and pottery studios, and the holding of the International Ceramics and Porcelain Goods Festival in Mino to raise its world profile (the 11th Festival will be held in 2009), there have been great changes to the production areas in this new century to create a foundation for a history that can be proudly boasted.