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Seto ware (Jp.)

Glazed ceramic ware of Japan produced in Owari Province (modern Aichi Prefecture) from the 12th to 15th centuries characterized by iron or ash glazes.

The late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries (Momoyama and early Edo) were one of the great periods of Japanese ceramic production in Seto and the neighbouring Mino region. It was the period when individual artisans began to explore their craft most creatively, pushed on by the demands of the tea ceremony and the aesthetics of the teamaster Oribe. Many of the most famous Raku and Shino bowls were produced at that time, and even in those days they were hugely valuable. The Jesuit priest Louis Frois wrote that one teabowl equalled the price of the most precious jewels in Europe. As a result, setomono is as common a term for ceramics in Japan as china is in England.

In the book Tea Ceremony Utensils by Ryoichi Fujioka there's a photograph of an early 17th century Seto tea caddy named Zaichu-an. It's a national treasure and it has a set of eight cloth bags, made from the finest Chinese fabrics, to protect it - and they are treasures also.

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