A fine early probably Japanese tea ceremony flower vase. An almost identical example is illustrated in the Robert Clague Collection, see No 10 at page 36, Claque collection number 245. These vases appear to have been based on Chinese vases of similar form dating to the late Ming period, some authorities actually maintain that these vases are in fact Chinese, however the editor of the Clague Collection puts forward a persuasive case that these are in fact Japanese based on the exaggerated form and Daoist iconography of the vases.
The subjects of the vase are Xu You and Chao Fu taken from the Daoist text Zuangzi. Xu You is washing his ear, and Chao Fu is leading his Ox away from a poisoned stream.
Taoist subjects exemplifying Confucian notions of virtue were particularly popular in seventeenth century Tokugawa Japan, as they had been in Ming China during the reign of the Emperor Jiajing. Similar subjects are widely found on Chinese porcelain made specifically for the Japanese Market during the first half of the seventeenth century.
The vase measures 18cm in height and is 8.4cm in diameter. The base plate has been replaced and the vase has been at least partially re-lacquered, which is not unusual for a vase of this age, probably in the Meji period. This type of vase has been copied, but we, and the curator of the Clague collection are of the opinion that this vase is contemporary with the Clague example and dates to the early seventeenth century. Additional images on request. Shipping at cost.