Perch-shaped dish

Modelled in the shape of a perch, this dish is decorated in underglaze cobalt blue and covered in a clear glaze. The head, tail, and fins are shaded with a light blue wash. The features of the perch are outlined in dark blue, while “blown ink” spots (fukizumi in Japanese) decorate the body. Sections of the glaze have worn away, a feature known as mushikui (“moth-eaten edges” in Japanese).The dish is part of an amusing group of food dishes known as mukozuke. Mukozuke were used during the meal that accompanied the Japanese tea ceremony and were made in a wide variety of forms, including fish, oxen, leaves, and other beguiling shapes. Made in China to Japanese taste, they formed part of the trade in blue and white porcelain (ko-sometsuke) between Japan and China that began in the 1620’s, following the death of the Wanli Emperor (d. 1619), who had in life forbidden legal trade between the two countries.