Japanese Arita Tea Urn, ca. 1670
About 30 years ago, in my pursuits as a garage sale junkie, I found this very unusual piece. I'd never seen anything like it before. I thought it was Chinese. I thought it was a funeral urn for ashes. And then I thought it might be a tea service. And it's been sitting on my dresser for 30 years waiting for an answer until the Roadshow came along.
It's Japanese and it's very, very early Japanese. You're correct about it being a tea urn. That's exactly what it was, but it was made for the Dutch export market in Japan in a very famous kiln area called Arita. And it was done by the Dutch because what happened in China was at the end of the Ming dynasty, all the kilns closed down. And the Dutch had to find some place to go to make their fine pieces for export to their country. So they went into Japan and they approached Arita, and this is a very early piece. And the reason we know this is early is-- and can probably date it from about 1670-- is the fact that it's a rather transitional piece in that it has these Japanese figures here, the seven lucky gods. And one of them is Daikoku, which is this man right here, holding the mallet. And he's the god of good fortune, of wealth. So these were figures that the Japanese used in their porcelains before the Dutch came in. And they were unsure of what to put on this porcelain. How were they going to decorate this piece for the Dutch market? So it's interesting in the fact that the shape of the urn is Dutch, but the Japanese were using their decorations. So that's why we can date it from that period. And as you say, it is for tea, a tea spigot. You can see here, it is now a cork, but was once a probably removable spigot. How much did you pay for this vase?
I don't recall exactly, but I had a rule at the time that I wouldn't buy anything for more than ten dollars at a garage sale.
So I'm sure I stuck to that rule.
Perhaps ten dollars then.
The estimate would be somewhere in the neighborhood of $10,000 to $15,000 for this.
Okay. (laughing) I'm speechless.
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