Antiques 3-28-09 and some questions.

This is a Richo Okoicha teabowl, around 500 years old. Korean. Hon te hakeme. Unfortunately I didn’t write down what hon te means. Hakeme is the style, brushed on white slip. Used for more than one person, usually around 3. Okoicha bowls are much larger than regular tea bowls. I would say this is roughly the  size for a good bowl of ramen. Heresy I’m sure but that was the first thing I thought when I saw it.

When I was learning about this bowl the subject of the Japanese appreciation of austere, or shibui aesthetics came up. Specifically it came up in regard to why there are few if any of these type of bowls left in Korea. The beauty wasn’t recognized by the Koreans but by the Japanese, Sen no Rikyu being the first if my understanding is correct. This type of bowl was considered to be a substitute, a bowl for those who wanted white ware but could only dream of owning it,  only for the commoner. The value was placed on the Chinese ceramics, they were considered the jewels. Of course now in Korea there is a lot of research going on around the production of the ceramics of this period. Today there is  lot of production of “genuine” ware from this period too. The recently produced 500 year old Richo bowls are very good. If one isn’t concerned about having an actual 500 year old bowl there are many around that are of very good quality.  In my own ceramics I often have pieces that split or collapse. I am able to sell them here in Japan for the same price as a “perfect” piece. Often times I have brought collapsed pieces to galleries and had them say they want work that is even more extreme.

I am in the middle stages of  getting a podcast together. Two of the sections will be Ask an Alien and Ask a Japanese. Anybody with a question for the Japanese? I will ask around, get a few responses and include them in the podcast.

For the first Ask an Alien I will post this question that was put to me by a research scientist at Sumitomo Pharmaceuticals. He asked me why, in the U.S., there is such a thing as ceiling fans with lights attached. He specifically mentioned the kind with four lights. Inquiring Japanese minds want to know.

For the first Ask a Japanese I will post a question my brother asked me some years ago.

If Japanese houses are so small, why do they all have gardens.


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