Heihei Sueki


Sue ware (Sueki) with natural ash glaze
Kofun period, 6th-7th century

H.: 9.5 cm – Ø.: 12.3 cm

Sueki (literally “offering ware”) was a blue-gray form of high-fired pottery used for funerary and ritual objects which was produced in Japan during the Kofun, Nara and Heian periods (5th-12th centuries). It originated from the Korean stoneware style known as “Kaya ware”. More advanced than Jōmon and Yayoi pottery, Sueki marks a turning point in the history of Japanese ceramics. Sue ware was made from coils of clay, beaten and smoothed or carved into shape, and then fired in a reduced oxygen atmosphere at temperatures of 1,100 to 1,200° C. The resulting stoneware was generally unglazed, but sometimes displays a beautiful accidental partial covering of ash glaze, which melted in drips onto the ceramic pieces’ surfaces as they were being fired. There are many kinds of shapes, and this one is called heihei (literally “flat bottle”).