Vintage Japanese Water Dropper | Seto Porcelain Suiteki with Koi Relief | 1900s
This is a charming Japanese pottery water dropper, (suiteki), in the shape of a Japanese carp, (koi), and is used by scholars to moisten the solid sumi ink employed in calligraphy and drawing. The top side of the dropper is wonderfully detailed giving the piece a natural, textural quality resembling a swimming fish. Condition: No cracks or dings. Dimensions: 4-0”L x 2-3/8”w x 1-0”h.
At first Suiteki were simply jars or bowls used for holding water, but as interest in the accoutrements of calligraphy grew, water-droppers became more specialized. Suiteki are used by brush calligraphers to hold and dispense exact amounts of water onto an ink stone for the purpose of mixing and diluting ink pigment. Due to the limited space inside, water droppers in writing boxes, (Suzuribako), were low in height and were uniform in shape – round, oval, or square with line-engravings or low relief designs. The Edo period, however, saw the emergence of Suiteki in larger, 3-dimensional shapes including animals, plants, and popular deities that could also serve as desk and shelf ornaments. Water-droppers varied greatly in material, shape, and design, and typically are made of ceramic, semi-precious materials, copper, bronze or other metal alloys.