Water container
Negoro ware on wood
Japan, Momoyama period (1573-1603), 16th century
H. 11 in (28cm) – W. 6.3 in (16cm)
With a certificate of authenticity from the Kyoto National Museum

A wooden water container in the shape of a sutra container. This piece has a lotus-shaped lid which is surmounted by a stupa-shaped element. The knob at the top of the stupa has a hōjyu (cintamani) design. The inside of the cylinder was originally lacquered with Negoro black lacquer, and its color gradually changed to dark amber, a process which takes several centuries to occur. This piece is a very rare example of Negoro ware.
The sutra containers were used to hold sutra, letters of supplication, or detailed notes about the construction of a sutra mound (kyōzuka), and buried underground. Objects made of various materials such as ceramic, stone and metals were placed in them. They are generally of cylindrical shape, and always have a lid. Some old examples have inscriptions on them, and the letter “塔” (stupa) is often present, indicating that they were made in imitation of the form of a stupa.
Provenance: The inscription 長法寺, which can be read as Chōhō-ji temple, appears on the old locking storage box. Several temples share this name so it is impossible to identify which one this container came from.