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A pair of turn of the century Aka-kinsai gourd-shaped vases by Eiraku Zengoro signed on the base Dai Nippon Eiraku Zo. They are 9-1/2 inches (24 cm) tall, late 19th to early 20th centuries, spanning the reign of the Meiji and Taisho emperors. Finding a pair of vases in perfect condition in the most seismicaly active country on earth is very rare.
Eiraku Zengoro XII (Wazen, 1823-1896) was one of the most influential potters of his time, setting the stage for the revival of and modernization of Kyoyaki, based on models by Koetsu, Kenzan and Ninsei. Although named Sentaro, he was more commonly referred to by the name Zengoro, and used also the name Wazen after 1865. He was trained under his father, Hozen, who was a compatriot of Ninnami Dohachi and Aoki Mokubei, and rightfully one of the most famous potters of the later Edo. Zengoro was given the reins to the family business quite early, in 1843, and managed the day to day running of the kiln while his father sought to perfect porcelain products in Kyoto. From 1852 to 1865 the family worked from a kiln at Ninnaji temple. Attracting the attention of a Daimyo from Kaga, from 1866-1870 he worked to revitalize a porcelain kiln in that area, coming to produce classic wares which are prized to this day. During this time of working divided from the family kiln, two workers who had been trained by his father shared the title of the 13th generation leader in Kyoto, however Wazen outlived both by decades. He returned to Kyoto in 1870, and also established a kiln in Mikawa in the 1870s to produce more common tableware. From 1882 until his death, it seems he worked from a large kiln in the Eastern Hills of Kyoto. Under both the 11th and 12 generations of this family the name Zengoro took on a life of its own, and came to symbolize the highest in porcelain and tea wares. The family is one of the 10 artisan families producing tea articles for the Senkei tea schools. For the next thirteen years following the death of Wazen the family gets a bit confusing, with Kaizen and Kyokuzen both serving as the 13th head of the family then Tokuzen and Myozen (his wife) as the fourteenth. Myozen would succeed the family name in 1910 after the early death of her husband, bringing stability back into the family.