Height: 5.1 cm
Mouth diameter: 15.3 cm
Foot diameter: 3.5 cm
Tenmoku glazed stoneware
China, Song Dynasty (12th Century)
This famed masterpiece of tenmoku-style stoneware with a phoenix design was formerly owned by the Maeda family, the lords of Kaga Province (today's Ishikawa Prefecture). The teabowl, with its small foot and an ample, spreading bowl is one of the finest extant works from the Jizhou kiln in China.
The inside of the bowl is decorated with a stenciled design of a long-tailed bird and a blossoming spray, an effect created with two different glazes. First it was coated with a black glaze, onto which paper stencils were pasted. Next it was coated with a straw-white ash glaze, creating an intricate harmony of subtly blending blues, yellows, and reds. On this rich ground with its gold rim, the dark silhouette of the phoenix presents a striking contrast.