Masks banko pottery tea pot

Banko polychrome enamelled terracotta teapot, representing on each side masks from the Japanese folklore. Handle in wickerwork.

On the spout, Hyottoko, a comical and childlike character. He is recognizable by the shape of his elongated mouth with two red dots (he blows fire with a bamboo pipe), his white scarf with blue dots around his face and his eyes of different sizes. During local festivals like in Miyazaki, he appears in traditional dengakudances and plays the role of a clown.
On his left, Okame (also called Uzume or Otafuku), deity of Happiness and Good omen, known to bring good fortune. She is shown smiling with two black dots on her forehead.
To the right of Hyottoko, mask of a hero in kabuki theater. The stage make-up work by the actors is called kumadori. It is characterizd by a white complexion, colors and patterns symbolizing aspects of the actor’s personality. The red color symbolizes virtue and power, and characterizes a powerful hero.
On the back side, the demon Oni, with its horns and sharp teeth. He symbolizes greed. During the Setsubunfestival, people expel bad luck and invite good luck by throwing beans at it.
Cover representing Tengu with a red face, scary eyes and a long nose. It is a half-god, half-demon being from the Shinto tradition, with the ability to fly. He is reputed to divert humans from their Buddhist faith.  According to some traditions, he is the protector of the mountains. The Tengu mask is worn in many festivals and used to decorate shrines and temples as they are supposed to protect them from evil spirits and attract good luck.

Banko pottery is a type of Japanese pottery, with the homonymous workshop, originating from Yokkaichi (Mie prefecture), in central Japan. Existing for 270 years, it was created by a rich merchant named Nunami Rouzan in the middle of the 18th century. He was passionate about the Way of Tea and wanted to create his own pottery to dedicate it to this passion. The name banko comes from the expression “bankofueki“, with which he stamped each of his creations, and which means “constancy and eternity”. With this signature, he hoped that his creations would be appreciated for many generations. However, his art was recognized long after his death; his workshop nevertheless endures. From the end of the 19th century and especially at the beginning of the 20th century, rather grotesque banko pottery was distributed in the West through the A. A. Vantine’s store. It was located on the 5th avenue of New-York and specialized in objects from the East and the Far East.

Seal under the teapot : ” 萬古 “, banko
A similar example is kept in the Yokkaichi Municipal Museum.

Japan, Yokkaichi (Mie prefecture) – Taishô era (1912-1926)
Height 14 cm (with handle, 24 cm) – Length 16 cm (spout included) – Width 13 cm