A Chinese porcelain blue and white kosometsuke plate with flat everted rim, painted in the centre with three figures, carrying buckets of salt water in a landscape scene between viewing pavilions and beneath pine trees, all within five “C”-scrolls and all beneath a quarter of the rim, painted with flower heads and ruyi, the underside with lozenge and pearl.

8 3/8 inches, 21.2 cm diameter.

Tianqi, 1621-1627.

Provenance & Additional Information

  • Sold by Hirano Kotoken, Osaka, circa 1985.
  • A similar plate is illustrated by Masahiko Kawahara in Ko-Sometsuke Monochrome Section,  600, p. 152; another in the Asian Art Museum, San Francisco from the collection of Effie B. Allison, gift of J.V. West and B.V. Gewald is illustrated by Julia B. Curtis, Trade, Taste & Transformation: Jingdezhen Porcelain for Japan, 1620-1645, China Institute Gallery, New York, 2006, no. 36, pp. 63/4.
  • Another with this central design encircled by a complete border of stylised ruyi was included by Marchant in their exhibition of Ming Porcelain for the Japanese Market, Ko-Sometsuke and Ko-Akai, 2008, no. 27, pp. 56/7. Where it notes the design of three figures carrying a wooden bucket on a pole over their shoulder is associated in Japan with a popular story known as shiokume “Brine-Dipping”. In the story, there is a dance scene in which a young maiden gathers sea water to make salt; another of this pattern is illustrated by Richard S. Kilburn, Transitional Wares and Their Forerunners, 131, p. 166.
  • Curtis also mentioned in Trade, Taste & Transformation that the scene may be based on the Noh play Matsukaze, in which two sisters who gather brine from Suma on the inland sea, fall in love with a young courtier briefly exiled there. Even as ghosts, the sisters await his return, “constant ever, green as a pine”, until their spirits are at last freed by the prayers of a priest. The plate may depict the two sisters on either side of the taller courtier.


Rim frits and tiny sand spot on the front.