Furuta Oribe (1544–1615) was a military general–turned–tea aesthete whose style of presentation at tea gatherings catered to the samurai class and shoguns of sixteenth-century Japan. In contrast to his predecessors, Oribe preferred tea wares that were bold and eccentric rather than subtle and rustic. He was the first to recognize the beauty of artfully misshapen ceramics for use in tea gatherings. Ewers such as this were employed as water containers during the meal that preceded the tea service. Their distintive glaze contains copper and thus turned green in the firing process. This glaze, along with slightly off-kilter or distorted shapes, became trademarks of Oribe ware produced in the Mino region of Japan (today Gifu prefecture).
This vessel features drawings of plum blossoms, wheels, a hexagonal tortoiseshell pattern, and a lattice, all done in an underglaze iron wash. This is typical of such wares, which most often do not have a single decorative theme but rather depict a mélange of almost abstract motifs akin to the popular patterning on textiles of the period.