Regarding Color: Oriental and Contemporary Japanese Ceramics

Sept. 30 (Wed), 2015- Sep.4 (Sun), 2016

The phrase Yuguo Tian Qing (雨過天青) literally translated means ‘clear sky after the rain,’ an idiomatically has the meaning of ‘hope after hardship.’ It is also a term that refers to the ideal celadon color sought by pottery craftsmen of the Chinese Song Dynasty (960 – 1279). Celadon actually refers to a range of subtly different blue color tones, distinguished in ancient times by such names as ‘tianqing’ (天青) or azure blue, and ‘fenqing’ (粉青), or powder blue. The names reveal the aesthetic sensibility of Eastern peoples, and their particular taste for the color blue.
   The color of Oriental ceramics is influenced by the aesthetics of the age and place they were created. Along with shape and design, color is a critical element of appreciation. Subtle differences in color occur depending on the nature of the glaze and clay used, and the level of oxygen present during firing in the kiln. Given that, attaining the ideal color took some ingenuity in the formulation of material and firing, and this opened a rich world of color variation.
   This exhibition offers an unprecedented grouping of Asian ceramics – antique Chinese, Korean, and Japanese pieces, as well as contemporary Japanese works – from the Pola Museum’s collection. There are five groups, divided by color. Monochrome celadon and white porcelain examples show subtle color tone differences. Colorful pieces with overglaze enamels or gold reveal varying sensibilities towards coordinating and combining colors. We hope you will enjoy experiencing the world of color of Oriental ceramics, a world that awakens sensibilities that transcend time and place.

I. The Colors of Monochrome


【Contemporary Japanese Ceramics】
Okabe Mineo, Vase, celadon, 1969,
photo by Shigeharu Omi


【Oriental Ceramics】
Celadon glazed vase with phoenix handles, Longquan ware, Southern Song dynasty, 13th century



【Oriental Ceramics】
Celadon glazed octagonal vase with design of immortals and iron brown spots, Longquan ware, Yuan dynasty, 13-14th century


II. The Worlds of Color


【Contemporary Japanese Ceramics】
Kato Hajime, Ornamental pot in peacock and rose-and-peony design, gold leaves on overglaze yellowish-green enamel, 1968

五彩瓢形瓶 (金襴手)s

【Oriental Ceramics】
Gourd-shaped bottle in overglaze enamels and gold, Jing-de-zhen ware, Ming dynasty, 16th century


五彩花鳥文盤 「大清康煕年製」銘

【Oriental Ceramics】
Dish with design of flowers and birds in overglaze enamels, Jing-de-zhen ware, Qing dynasty, 17th-18th century, Kang-xi mark