My wife and I have started building a new house and when the land was prepared for the foundation and retaining wall a lot of dirt was moved around, heaved up, etc… I went by after a heavy rain and noticed that the whole lot was littered with pot shards. Turns out that the land we bought, as well as the neighboring area was a community during Momoyama/Edo period Japan. I’m not sure at what point the land became a rice/soybean field, but about 20″ down the strata contains numerous pot fragments discarded by this Momoyama/Edo period community.
I’ve divided the shards up into stoneware and porcelain. The best find is in the porcelain group: a whole unbroken ‘benizara’ (lipstick dish) dating back about 400 years. It can be seen near center/top standing against the remains of a stemmed cup. It’s a mass produced piece probably pressed in a wooden form.
Both groups show some interesting traits: the hakeme work on the stoneware, the varying degrees of melt of the glazes, the unglazed interior center which indicates they were fired in stacks. Various shades of blue in the Gosu painting depending on the purity, and varying shades of blue discoloration in the ‘white’ porcelain due to the iron content of the porcelain stone used. The older pieces are definitely less white and more ‘blue/grey’.
Nearly all the porcelain pieces exhibit glaze faults that would have relegated them to the discard pile in later years, but everything that came out of the kiln during this time period was precious, even if it was divided up into grades of quality. Unless something was really messed up in the firing it could be used for tableware.
I also found the one green glass marble, which when viewed closely, is quite irregular. This suggests to me that it is handmade, but I have no idea as to the age.