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Yeiraku Ware

( Originally Published 1911 )

There is an ancient pottery at Kyoto, founded by a family named Sozen and later Yeiraku, a title bestowed upon them by the Prince of KU or Kishu.

The present potter is of the same name and he still makes earthenware and porcelain. It was about 1600 when Yeiraku—then Zengoro-Hozen—began to make unglazed tea urns as his ancestors had done. As a recreation he tried experiments with pastes and glazes, which attracted considerable attention, and secured for him an invitation from the Prince of Kishu to come to his province. Here Yeiraku ware was made, so called from the stamp it bears. Zengoro made glazes his special study, and produced rich combinations of turquoise, blue, purple, and yellow, but more than these was his successful coral-red glaze, made in imitation of the old Chinese " vivid red " of the Yung-lo period. This last achievement gained for him the gift of a golden stamp, " Yeiraku," and the name which the family has borne for so many years. Yeiraku's skill was often tested by orders to copy all sorts of Chinese, Korean, and even Dutch pieces, which he did so well that the original and its imitation could not be distinguished. Yeiraku was wealthy now, and could have gone into easy retirement. Yet such was his love of his art that he worked on. He had produced the purple, yellow, turquoise, green, and the blue and white, also the coral red and enamelled porcelains of China, but he tried fruitlessly to get the tin glaze of Delft and the various glazes of lakes of the Chinese.

The illustrations given of the goddess Kuwanon, in Chinese Kouanyin or Kwan Yin, show one of the most interesting of the Buddhist deities. She was reincarnated at least thirty-three times, as a man, a woman, a demon, and so on, for the greatest good of humanity. Still, it is in the feminine form that her figure is most frequently found in Japanese porcelain and pottery, as well as in Chinese. Her hair is in the style of Louis XIV., she wears a necklace bearing an ornament in the form of a cross, and, being "the giver of children," she is holding a little child, whilst Loung-nou and Hoang-tchen-sai, her two servants, stand at her right and left. Perhaps the rarest of these figures is in the cream-white porcelain of Nankin. A figure of this goddess was recently sold for £45.

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