Shinnari-type iron tea kettle depicting maple leaves, a stream, and chickens
H. 20.6 cm, diam. 32.1 cm
Important Cultural Property
Kyushu National Museum
Muromachi period, 15th century
Collection Ref. No.
This kettle was produced in the region of Ashiya, Chikuzen Province (present-day Ashiya, Fukuoka). This area was a major production center of metalwork, including Buddhist altar fittings and bronze temple bells. From the mid-Kamakura period (ca. 13th century) onward, they also began producing tea kettles. In the Muromachi period (14th–16th century), Ashiya-produced kettles became highly valued in the context of tea ceremonies. During this period, Ashiya itself became synonymous with tea kettles, and their products were popular among powerful temples in the capital of Kyoto, daimyo clans, and aristocrats alike. This can be seen in how they appear in a number of documents, including the Daitokuji Temple Records (Daitokuji monjo), the Diaries of Lord Noritoki (Noritoki-kyō ki), and the Letters from Mansai of Sanbōin Temple (Sanbōin Mansai shojō).
This kettle can be classified as a shinnari type, the most commonly seen type of iron kettle in tea ceremonies. The stern-looking lugs attached to its shoulders and its sheen (namazu-hada, lit., “skin of the catfish”) are both characteristics distinctive to Ashiya kettles. Its body bears a dynamic scene of maple leaves floating down in a flowing stream, with chickens playing on the riverbanks. The autumn scene it portrays has earned it the nickname “Tatsutagawa” (Tatsuta River), after a river in Nara famous for its autumn foliage.