A Chinese Pot

A Chinese Pot

This is going to be a quick post just about this one particular pot that I like and I thought you readers would too.  There is a tree in the yard that is currently in a pot like this one and I always liked it a lot.  I asked Mr. Tanaka about it and he said they were somewhat inexpensive and easy to find.  I told him how much I like it and he said he felt the same.  He said that the green color with the one red strip was nice and usable.  This pot was made in China about 30-40 years ago but pots like these were made over 100 years ago in China.  Mr. Tanaka said that the newer ones lack a bit of quality compared to the 100 year old ones but are still beautiful and useful.  Since I’ve been here, I’ve yet to see one just like this one at a auction or gardens.  I’ve seen many that are a single color but never with one red strip down the center.  Last week when I was cleaning, I put some glazed pots away and to my surprise, found this pot buried under a bunch of other pots.  I pulled it out and showed it to Mr. Tanaka and he says, “oh yeah…  I bought them as a pair.”  I suppose it was my fault because I never asked Mr. Tanaka if he had another one to sell.  Ha!

Anyways, I’m going to keep this one short and get on with the pictures.  Enjoy everybody!

I can’t get over the varying thickness of the green glaze and the one red strip in the center.  This pot caught my attention very quickly when I first came to Aichi-en.  The size of the pot is 49cm(19¼in) x 33cm(13in) x 14.5cm(5¾in).

A side shot

The other front of the pot.  Both sides have the red strip down the center.

The other side of the pot.  Though I love the clean and quality of many other pots, the imperfections of this pot makes each of them unique.  Take for example the one area on the bottom right that didn’t get glazed.

Here is a angle shot of the pot looking down.  The lip on this pot is not level and because of the uneven glaze this pot looks more warped then it really is.

Here is another angle shot from the other front.  On this side, the pot doesn’t look as warped.  Notice how the red stripe in the front matches the red stripe in the back?  Do you suppose the maker did that on purpose or was it coincidence?  Can we ever find the true answer to that?  These are one of the mysteries of the pot that keeps me thinking about it.

A shot of the pot from the top.  The clay used is a yellowish clay and isn’t very valuable.  It’s rough and unrefined.  On the top left of the pot you can see that there are small drops of glaze that was accidentally sprayed on the inside.  Or was it an accident?

Don’t even get me started on how all this happend on the bottom of the pot!

A closer look at the glaze shows that it’s somewhat thick and have small cracks in it.  I believe that only adds to the beauty of this pot.  That red strip looks like its glowing with the yellow/green surrounding it.

Just another shot of the front of the pot.  There’s a flood of feelings that hit me when I look at this pot.  I can’t really explain it but do you feel it?  It’s like look at an abstract painting…  Perhaps the feeling is different for each and everyone of us.

I always thought this was a great angle for pot pictures so here you go.

Here’s the one in the yard that has a tree in it.  Though they look the same, the small differences make them all unique.

If you were wondering what kind of tree would go in this pot?  We have a quite large Silverberry (Elaeagnus) in it.  Great!

I hope you all enjoyed this post.  Please let me know your thoughts on the pot itself and this Silverberry that’s in it.

Now I’m going to see if I can talk Mr. Tanaka into selling me the extra pot I found.  Wish me luck!

Thanks for looking at this pot with me!

P.S. If you are actively reading this blog, I would appreciate it if you subscribe to it (right column of the blog).  This is one of the best ways for me to know how many people are reading.  Thanks!

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23 thoughts on “A Chinese Pot

  1. Elliott Farkas says:

    Very cool pot, Peter. I’ll give $20 bucks for it, and I don’t want no change back either! LOL!
    I enjoy what you teach us about pots as much as the trees. Thanks.

  2. Sandy Vee says:

    Peter, a wonderful pot. You will be fortunate to get it. What will you pllant in it?

    • Peter Tea says:

      Thanks Sandy! Perhaps I’ll probably put a large broad leaf evergreen of some sorts. Perhaps I can find a nice silverberry to go with it since the one we have here looks good with it. I’ve thought about a great big Coast Live Oak as well.

  3. Daniel Dolan says:


    Your eye for unique container [Like an English author I read we dislike the word pots] designs is well developed.

    One of your photographs,…..looking down into the container…..shows very small drainage holes.

    My question: with drainage an all important issue in bonsai health…..why are the holes so small….so few……and so easily occluded by roots, finer soil and mycorrhizae over thick mesh for that matter?

    Given the beauty and health of so many great Japanese trees….is this really all that it needed are these 2 small holes?

    Always look forward to you comments.

    Best regards,

    • Peter Tea says:

      Container is a better word. I think I’m going to use that from now on!

      That is a very good question that you have. I’m not sure why they only put two small holes. Sometimes they will drain just fine and sometimes it won’t drain very well at all. Maybe it’s something the maker themselves just never thought about. I can’t really answer that question right now but I’m going to do some research and find that answer. When I do, I’ll share it with everybody. Thanks Daniel!

  4. Jose Luis says:


    These is a Guandong (Cantonese) pot. I have one a bit similar, but with clouded feet. On another note, these were also produced in dark blue color, sometimes with relief patterns displaying a chrysanthemum or bats. Many of the blue chrysanthemum pots have been used in Japan for Satsuki azaleas.

    • Peter Tea says:

      HI Jose, I want to get one of the design pots as well. I think they just look so old and unique, though I have yet to see another one that has this odd two color glaze. Perhaps I’ll find more in the future here in Japan. Thanks for reading!

  5. Bruce Winter says:

    I too got the impression of lava, but then, I’m 5 minutes from Kilauea caldera!

  6. glenn van winkle says:

    Peter, When I look at the close up of the red glaze I immediately got the impression of hot lava with a green back ground, and motion like the red stripe was actually falling down the side of the pot. Amazing so much impression and emotion in a design so simple.
    Thank You for taking the time to post, it is a great insight into the the culture of Bonsai in Japan

  7. cherylas2009 says:

    interesting pot Peter. I like the silverberry. I see silverberry bonsai occasionally in the US but not many. I like them as bonsai. the combination of the silverberry and the pot is probably quite nice although the photo can’t really show the irridesence of the leaves.

    ps i already subscribe.


  8. Dave Williams says:

    Hi Peter,
    Very nice pot. I liked hearing your opinions about it. I think the 3rd pic from the top would be my choice for the front.

    • Peter Tea says:

      I agree with your choice fro the front of the pot. I like how the red strip looks like a drip and gives the feeling of movement, whereas the other side is just a strip. Good eye!

  9. Andrew says:

    The close-up photo of the red stripe brings to mind one of those great Hubble photos of a nebula.

    • Peter Tea says:

      I’ve always been a fan of multiple shades of a color or a mix of colors in pots. They remind me of space also and in a way, I can get lost in it just looking at the colors. Thanks for reading Andrew!

  10. Paul Wycoff, Rewood Empire Bonsai Society member says:

    A great pot !!! Thanks Peter for sharing it !!!

  11. japanesepots says:

    This is an awesome pot! Reminds me of some the thick glazed pots by Tofukuji or Bushuann. I like it quite a bit. I buy boatloads of pots off yahoo Japan and haven’t seen one like it either. I’ll definitely be keeping my eye out though!

  12. Jim says:

    The red stripes are probably from a single brush stroke of a contrasting glaze or metallic oxides that changed the glaze from green to red. Both iron and copper make red colors in some glazes.

    Some of the red stripe is visible on the inside of the pot, where there isn’t any green glaze. Is that part of the red stripe glassy? If so, that would indicate that the stripe is a glaze, as coloring oxides alone wouldn’t make a glass by themselves.

    The cracking occurred because the glaze shrank more than the clay did as it cooled in the kiln. It is called crackle or crazing. Dinnerware makers don’t like it because bits of food and oils can penetrate the cracks and make the pottery unsanitary. Artists love crazed glazes and may stain them to highlight the beautiful patterns. And they may alter their glaze recipes to make the crackle pattern larger or smaller (less shrinkage or more shrinkage).

    Thanks for this post. As always, you are doing a great job!

    • Peter Tea says:

      Thanks for the insight on the workings of glazes. I looked at the inside red and it is glassy, though I can see a bit of green underneath it. Perhaps one day when I’m back home, I can show you the pot in person and you can give me your expert opinion about the glaze. I think glazed pots that have crazing are great! It sorts of make them all unique in a way. Thanks Jim!

  13. Randi Sharp says:

    Very cool pot. The red stripe centered between yellow grabs your eye but doesn’t distract you from viewing the tree, which is interesting. It may be that the patina helps pull the colors together or the shade of the glazes but the combination is an artistically pleasing and beautiful pot, amazingly abstract for older pots. Good luck with your bargaining 🙂

    • Peter Tea says:

      Hi Randi, I was able to get the pot from Mr. Tanaka so I’m happy about that. Many would think that a bright red line down the pot would be distracting but in this case works very well. It’s got a bit of patina on it now but I’m excited to build more on it in the future. Now to find a tree for it… LOL

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