Art of Asia
- Nanbokuchō and Muromachi periods, an introduction
- Ryōanji (Peaceful Dragon Temple)
- Bamboo in the Four Seasons: painting and poetry in Japan
- Short sword (wakizashi) and long sword (katana)
- Helmet with half-face mask
- The Way of Tea
- Teahouse at the Asian Art Museum
- Tea bowl with standing crane design (gohon tachizuru)
- Fresh water jar
- Muromachi to Momoyama period Negoro ware ewer
- Incense container with design of plovers
- Kichizan Minchō, Monju Bosatsu
- Sessō Tōyō, Haboku-style landscape
What is this?
This container is used to hold small chips of incense used in tea gatherings. It is made out of an actual shell, which forms the lid. The base is lacquered wood. The lid is decorated with flying plovers (a small shore bird that runs in and out of the surf while feeding) painted in gold. The sides are decorated with a wave pattern and the inside of the container is also decorated with intricate plants and flowers.
How is it used in the tea gathering?
When the host builds the charcoal fire to heat the water for tea, a small piece of incense is placed near the coals so that the room is filled with a pleasing fragrance. The incense in this case is not burned, rather it releases its fragrance from being warmed by the fire. The decorative incense container is often placed on the floor of the alcove to display a sample of the incense used in the fire for the guests to examine if they wish.
The imagery on the incense container also adds to the atmosphere of the gathering and may support the host’s theme for the event. For example, at New Year, the zodiac animal of the year about to pass or the coming year are often used as incense containers. These animal-shaped containers often bring a playful atmosphere to the tearoom. What themes might this work convey?
Want to join the conversation?
- How comfortable would it be to have one of those incense containers in a room?(1 vote)