Posts Tagged ‘karatsu’

750 bowls.

October 27, 2011

I have a new post here,

Words for tea bowls part 2

January 25, 2010

For part 1 see here. Here are some more words from the book.

唐物=karamono=The general meaning is items that were imported into Japan.  There is a special usage of this word in the tea world that restricts the items to things made in China. There are hundreds of items, have a look here for a small sample.

貫入=kannyuu=Crackling or crazing in glaze. The small splits that appear in glaze when the fit to the body isn’t perfect. A sought after effect. The word probably comes from a mispronunciation of “kanyou” 官窯, or imperial kiln. Here or here for examples.

切形=kirigata= The original meaning is of a paper design that has been cut out of folded paper to produce a repeating design. In the world of tea it means the cutting out of folded paper of a tea bowl shape or a tea caddy. In ceramics it is used often times for ordering shapes to be made.

沓形=kutsugata= The name for a shape of tea bowl that isn’t perfectly round, said to  resemble a shoe. This type of bowl is most often found in Oribe and Karatsu tea bowls. See here or here for examples.

鶏竜山=keiryuusan, this also has a reading of keronsan=  An ancient kiln in Korea. Originally it produced celedon ware but from the Joseon period it exclusively produced a type of ware called funseisa, Punch’ŏng ware in English. Here and here are some examples.

高麗物=kouraimono= Items from Korea, usually from the Korai period, 918 – 1392 but in Japan used to denote items from the Korai period to the Joseon period , July 1392 – August 1910

Old Karatsu kilns compared to newer kilns.

January 13, 2010

I am reading Karatsu Yaki no Kenkyu, Research about (into) Karatsu Ceramics by Nakazato Hoan, 中里 逢庵, see here or here. I thought Nakazato Hoan was the Living National Treasure for Karatsu but it doesn’t appear he is. If I read his history right he is the Living Prefectural Treasure for Saga Prefecture.  He is also the 13th. Tarouemon. I think that is how you pronounce 太郎右衛門.  note 1 below. If you are interested in more on these kilns please see this post.

Nakazato Hoan carries the two titles above and is also a full time potter as well as the author of many books. The book I am reading focuses on the period between1624-1644, note 2 below  even though the term Kogaratsu, old Karatsu, extends up to the end of the Edo period, 1867 or 8 depending on who you read.

The book contains very detailed descriptions and drawings of kilns from the period covered. The picture below is of the kiln called Handokamekamigama.

kiln from page 38 of book.

kiln from page 38 of book.

The picture above is as it is in the book.

Red line added as a guide to the rough center of the kiln.

I have added a red line that runs roughly through the center of the kiln. The kiln is from the period of the 16th to the beginning of the 17th. century. There is a little uncertainty on the exact date as the dates given are for the “shita”, lower kiln and the drawing above is for the “kami”, or upper kiln if the kanji is translated literally. The general time period should be the same. The kiln was used for warabaiyu, rice stalk glaze, madara Karatsu glaze, chosekiyu, feldspar glaze, takiyu, at least I think that is how it is pronounced, tetsuyu, iron glaze or kaki temoku,  and dobaiyu in reduction. Towards the end of the 16th. century it fired Shino and Oribe tea bowls. The point being it was a kiln for glazed work.

The thing that really jumped out at me is how asymmetrical the kiln is. The red line I drew starts at the center of the front and ends at the center of the back. The drawing shows the flues between the chambers. There are 8 flues. The red line shows 5 on one side, actually 4 and the line goes through one and 3 on the other. By my estimation that would be a very sloppy job at kiln construction. I spent a lot of time and energy on my new snake kiln getting the alignment as close as my “used to be a land surveyor” self could get. One of the reasons I took so much care is my Karatsu style noborigama is far more similar to the drawing above and it has a lot of character as far as firing. That is to say there are cool spots and hot spots.

The picture below is from the same book, page 134 and shows the design for the “shita” kiln on the same site in the top drawing. The kiln’s name is Handokameshimogama. It is similar to a modern kiln so the builders had the ability to build straight kilns. The overall length of the kiln below is 6.8 meters, The scale is in  shaku, one shaku is 30 cm. height is about 1.20 meters. The drawing for the bottom is for a kiln called Michinayadani.

Newer Karatsu noborigama from page 134.


1= If I knew the difference I could write a whole paper on the difference between the third character in 太郎右衛門,  to be exact 右. If it is changed to 左 as in 太郎左衛門  it is a different title and the difference between the right and left which is the meaning of 右 and 左 is very important. In hina dolls, here or here, the “Empress” sits to the right of the “Emperor”. There is a major difference between the right side and left in Japan.

2 = pg. 16 of book.

Japanese antiques 10-16-09 kuradashi part 4

October 19, 2009

Today all the items I learned about are from the 3rd set of lots of this kuradashi except the Muromachi, or hereSeto area plate.

First up is this wooden box. The top veneer is from Gangoji temple, or here. It is from some part of the temple that was in direct rain. That is why it is so textured. The wood, hinoki, cypress, was grown in an area that had very slow growth, judging by the growth rings. If you look at the picture that is just before the Karatsu guinomi you will see a picture and description of Gangoji. It should be read from right to left. The box was made by tradesmen called sashimonoshi.  Edo period shashimonoshi quality can be seen in the video I made of the box lid being placed back onto the box, here.

The next piece is a Karatsu guinomi, sake cup, from the Momoyama period. These are very rare. Notable are the box ties. They are made of leather and are not tied in the traditional way. Instead they are tucked under after they are wrapped around the lid. This is the first time I have seen this type of box tie.

The third piece is a Muromachi Seto plate. It is not from the kuradashi lots. Mr. Kawase has gathered it for his next tea ceremony. Since the space in the tea room is very limited plates of this medium size are the maximum size that are desirable for the tea room.

The next piece is a guinomi made from turtle shell with what looks like lacquer inlay. Very delicate.

The last piece is I think a Kutani piece.

The last photo is of my favorite piece outside of some of the “tsuchimono” type of pieces. It is a Ko-Kutani faceted vase. Very old and rare.

Antiques 5-09-09

May 10, 2009

This is a Momoyama period Karatsu mukotsuke. It was originally part of a 5 piece set. There are a lot of complete sets to be had but there are far more incomplete sets around. Many, like this one,  have only one bowl left of the set. Because of this there is a term in Japanese that is “yoseimuko”. The “yosei” comes from a word meaning, in this case, to draw together, to bring together. The “muko” part, in this case, means bowl although the meaning is a little different. The word “yoseimuko” means to bring together 5 mukotsuke, or small plates,  to make a set or group.  Of course the set is a set of  what appear to be mismatched plates but in fact form a matched set. As I was learning about this plate I heard a story. The dealer and his father went to a tea gathering in Kobe. The dealer that was telling me the story is now 86 years old so the events in this story happened many years ago. At the tea party the father praised the person putting on the party on the quality of the yoseimuko he had put together. It was made up of 5 very rare and fine mukotsuke. The host replied with a laugh that he actually had the remaining 4 plates for each of the 5 in the set. The reason he had made a yosei set is he had had a particularly persnickety customer that day and had wanted to make him happy by showing him all five plates.

While I was looking at this bowl I was trying to see if I would recognize it as a genuine Momoyama piece. I do see the bottom in all aspects as genuine but the top would throw me. The top doesn’t have the feel I would expect. Lacking in depth, the iron decoration appears newer than I would expect. I do believe it is genuine but I would probably have been more dismissive of it had I seen it for sale somewhere else.