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Classic Stoneware of Japan: Shino and Oribe

Kuroda, Ryoji & Takeshi Murayama

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ISBN 10: 4770028970 / ISBN 13: 9784770028976
Published by Kodansha International, Tokyo, 2002
Condition: Very Good Condition Hardcover
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Off white textured hardcover with color photo illustrated dust jacket all in very good condition. "Classic Stoneware of Japan" brings together great early pieces with important newer work, in 150 color photographs, and outlines each ware in informative essays - written by two noted authorities - on each tradition's history and techniques. 112 pages. Bookseller Inventory # 5712

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Classic Stoneware of Japan: Shino and Oribe

Publisher: Kodansha International, Tokyo

Publication Date: 2002

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition:Very Good Condition

Dust Jacket Condition: Very Good Dust Jacket

Edition: First Edition

About this title

Synopsis:

Though Japan today has become one of the world's most industrialized, mechanized, and computerized nations, it still boasts one of the world's richest and most fascinating ceramic traditions.

Two of the country's most remarkable styles of pottery are Shino and Oribe, both originating in ancient Mino Province (modern-day Gifu Prefecture) from the time of Japan's artistic "renaissance" in the late sixteenth century.

Oribe ware is one of the most startling and innovative expressions not only of this period but of all Japanese pottery. In a departure from the more refined tea ceremony utensils that represent the meditative aspect of the ceremony, Oribe ware has a more earthy feel, with its layering of naturally occurring colors: a piece might be made of red and white clay, with green glaze over the white portion, and line decorations done in iron over a coat of white slip on the red part. This ware is named for Furuta Oribe, who in his time was the undisputed master of the tea ceremony and who, it is said, commissioned certain kilns to make these pots after his own designs.

Likewise, the tea ceremony ware known as Shino is widely considered to have its own unparalleled kind of beauty. With its thick, white, feldspathic glaze and stylized but seemingly spontaneous decoration in iron underglaze, it has an unmistakable sense of softness and naturalness.

Both Shino and Oribe are still being made today, but in many cases it is the older examples that are most striking. Classic Stoneware of Japan brings together these early great pieces with important newer work, in 150 color photographs, and outlines each ware in informative essays - written by two noted authorities - on each tradition's history and techniques.

Classic Stoneware of Japan offers a comprehensive visual survey and a basic understanding of these traditions' glazes, processes, shapes and decoration. The reader comes away with a clear idea of the essence of these wares and an ability to instantly recognize either. It will be invaluable for anyone interested in pottery, design or art.

Classic Stoneware of Japan is the combined edition of two earlier volumes, Shino and Oribe, originally published independently in the series Famous Ceramics of Japan. This new, combined edition is a fascinating guide to these enduring and vital art forms.

From the Publisher:

[From the book; the first pages of the Plate Notes]

Shino

1. Picture Shino water container, name: Kogan ("Weathered Shore"). H. 18.0 cm. Important Cultural Object. Hatakeyama Collection.

There are not many Old Shino water containers to be found in Japan. The most famous of this elite group is the piece known as Kogan. It was probably fired at the Ogaya Kamashita kiln at the beginning of the seventeenth century.

Its bottom edge (tatamitsuki) is extremely powerful. The lip has been notched, and the neck squeezed in with mathematical, almost frightening, precision. One might mistakenly assume that Furuta Oribe had a hand in this piece, as it is very much in the style he espoused. There is nothing incomplete about it.

The continuous design on the pot is not itself unusual, but here the execution is grand. It is hard to believe that it was done by a potter. Kitaoji Rosanjin has said that it is not necessary to stare long and hard at the pictures drawn by Momoyama potters. This jar is a wonderful example of that principle.

The color of the feldspathic Shino glaze is especially fine. The design -- it is difficult to tell whether it is of reeds or pampas grass -- is lively.

It seems to have been thrown rather casually, omitting fine details. It owes much of its effect to the events that occurred during firing: ishihaze ("stone bursting" -- pits caused by the melting of feldspar granules in the clay) and cracks by the heat.

It is not known who named the pot Kogan, but one can imagine that the lonely name was inspired by a cold, late autumn wind blowing off the mountains.

2, 3. Picture Shino teabowl, name: U no Hanagaki ("Fence of Deutzia Flowers"). D. 11.8 cm. National Treasure.

This bowl is said to have originally been in the possession of the Fuyuki family, apparently one of Tokyo's most prosperous houses in the Edo period. From Tokyo, the bowl came into the hands of the Yamada Hachirobei family of Osaka. Subsequently, according to the Taisho meikikan, it was sold at a Kyoto auction in 1890 for the sum of 1,000 yen in gold. Now it belongs to the Mitsui family.

Given the fact that there are virtually no other teabowls in Japan that have been designated National Treasures, it seems safe to say that this is the finest teabowl in existence.

The inscription on the box lid is attributed to the tea master Katagiri Sekishu. On the inside of the lid a poem card has been affixed with a poem that reads:

The inner essence
Of the fence of deutzia flowers
In a mountain village:
The feeling of treading a road
Covered with freshly fallen snow.

It is not certain who wrote this poem, but the style of calligraphy is one at which Sekishu excelled, so some think that this poem is his as well.

The bowl was fired at the Ogaya Mutabora kiln. Its irregular shape is indescribably elegant. The glazing, too, is superb. The red at the lip, caused by the fire in the kiln, and the flowing design, are especially beautiful.

There is another teabowl, called U no Hana ("Deutzia Flowers"), done in the same style. The late Fujio Koyama reported in a journal article that a third companion piece, a bowl with pine tree design, turned up in Kanazawa.

It has been established that Kato Genjuro Kagenari was the founder of the kilns at Ogaya. And while the claim made by some that this bowl is one of his works may well be true, it seems strange that this should be the only known example of his pottery. A brown-glazed tea caddy attributed to him has been passed down through generations of the Konoe family, but only the Konoe family regards this as authentic. Genjuro may in fact have made this tea caddy and the U no Hanagaki teabowl, but these attributions are traditional and cannot be proven.

4, 5. White tenmoku tea bowl. D. 12.3 cm. Important Cultural Object. Tokugawa Reimeikai Foundation.

This is a dignified white tenmoku teabowl lined with gold at the rim. (The tenmoku term comes from the utensils used at a Buddhist temple on Mt. Tenmoku -- Tianmu in Chinese -- in China's Zhejiang Province.)

Judging from the way the foot was trimmed, the bowl is thought to have been made sometime in the Tensho era (1573-92), which means that it is one of the earliest examples of Shino's feldspathic glaze.

There are only two such bowls known to exist. One has been passed down through the Maeda family of Kaga. The bowl shown here has come down through the Owari branch of the Tokugawa family.

I saw this bowl well over ten years ago, but the memory of it is still with me. It is well rounded, not at all severe like Chinese tenmoku. It is soft, luscious, truly representative of Japanese tenmoku.

There is no question that Shino ware was made at Mino during the Momoyama and early Edo periods. There is a school of thought that holds that Shino's antecedents are in the Muromachi period, and its adherents maintain that this bowl was made in Owari at that time. But the more common view is, as stated earlier, that this bowl was made in the Tensho era, probably at Ohira. The so-called Chrysanthemum Tenmoku made at Seto (Owari) adheres strictly to the style of its Chinese predecessors made at the kilns of Jian. The walls of this piece, however, have been pulled up toward the top of the body to make it more bowlike. And the trimming of the foot is different from that seen in Chrysanthemum Tenmoku.

It is not known when the practice of offering a bowl of tea to the Buddha image in temples began, but we do know that in the Muromachi period bowls began to be made in Japan for that purpose to supplement bowls imported from China. I have one such Japanese bowl in my collection, though it is a black-glazed piece rather than Shino ware. Also, a yellow-glazed bowl unearthed at Akatsu and thought to be from the Northern and Southern Courts period (1336-92) shows a trimmed foot similar to the one on this White Tenmoku piece.

6. Gray Shino, "picture frame" shallow dish, design of grasses and flowers. W. 23.7 cm. Umezawa Memorial Gallery.

There are perhaps ten shallow dishes in existence with "picture frame" shapes, but this piece is unique in terms of its decoration and its glaze application. The scenery deep in the mountains of Mino is depicted. The design and coloring combine to full and graceful effect.

Shallow dishes like this were produced at Ohira, Ogaya, and Kujiri. Each one has its own personality.

7. Gray Shino sewing dish, design of grasses. W. 16.0 cm. Hakone Museum of Art.

Since all Momoyama period serving dishes made for use in the meal accompanying a formal tea ceremony are large, today they are often used as bowls.

This piece was originally one of a set of five, but the rest have since been sold to different owners. It is of the finest workmanship, and its gray is a perfect example of the flames of the kiln at work.

As a serving dish, it is a fine piece, but as a piece of artistic pottery, it is even more noteworthy.

8. Picture Shino bowl, design of flowering plum branches. W. 26.9 cm. Hakone Museum of Art.

Tenko the god of the kiln, clearly had a hand in this piece. Among works of similar type, this bowl is preeminent. Its color is particularly clean, and it is considered the best example of a Shino serving bowl. Though some feel it is from Ogaya, more likely it is a product of the Kujiri Motoyashiki kiln at its peak at the beginning of the seventeenth century.

9. Plain Shino sake bottle; Shino Oribe sake bottle. Left: H. 17.5 cm. Right: H. 18.0 cm.

These were excavated in the vicinity of the Otomi kiln. No such bottles have been handed down; all are excavated pieces. They seem to have been used as everyday ware rather than as tea ceremony pieces. Both have been repaired at the neck, but this does not detract from their appearance.

Shino sake bottles are rare. The design on the right-hand bottle is rhythmical and has a forceful beauty.

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

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