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Tea Bowls in Bloom: Botanical Decorations on Tea Ceremony Ceramics

February 3, 2007 – July 15, 2007

Museum: Freer Gallery of Art

Location: Galleries 6, 6A, & 7

This exhibition presents decorated tea bowls and water jars that skillfully show how a limited palette can evoke the full spectrum of nature's hues. Painted images of seasonal flowers and auspicious plants linking the tea bowl to the moment or meaning of a gathering first appeared on tea bowls made at Japanese kilns in the late 16th century. The decoration, inspired by vessels imported from China, Korea, and Southeast Asia, used iron-brown or cobalt-blue pigment brushed under the glaze. During firing, the colors tended to melt into the glaze, producing an irregular and muted effect.