Tea Caddy (Seitaka)

Artist: Nonomura Ninsei (Japanese, active ca. 1646–94)

Period: Edo period (1615–1868)

Date: ca. 1650

Culture: Japan

Medium: Stoneware with red, brown, and black glazes

Dimensions: H. (with lid) 6 in. (15.2 cm); Diam. 1 7/8 in. (4.8 cm); Diam. of rim 1 1/8 in. (2.9 cm); Diam. of base 1 1/4 in. (3.2 cm)

Classification: Ceramics

Credit Line: The Howard Mansfield Collection, Gift of Howard Mansfield, 1936

Accession Number: 36.120.559a–f


This small, thin jar was used in the tea ceremony to hold powdered green tea known as matcha. It was made by Nonomura Ninsei, one of the most famous Japanese potters. He is known for being the first potter to sign his name to his work. Ninsei worked at a kiln he established outside Ninnaji temple, near Kyoto. His style, which is typically ornate and refined, set a standard that would define the appearance of Kyoto ceramics from that point on. This tea caddy is different from his usual work, in that there are no designs painted on the surface and the colors are subdued. However, even a less showy piece such as this one reveals the sophistication of Ninsei's eye.