Japanese, Edo (1615-1868)
Tea Bowl (Chawan) for Cha-no-yu with Artist’s Seal, 1700-99
Raku, 6 cm. diam.
Gift of William Collins
The Edo period is the period between 1603 to 1868 in the history of Japan when Japanese society was under the rule of the Tokugawa shogunate and the country’s 300 regional Daimyo. The period was characterized by economic growth, strict social orders, isolationist foreign policies, an increase in both environmental protection and popular enjoyment of arts and culture. The flourishing of Neo-Confucianism was the major intellectual development. This system of thought increased attention to a secular view of man and society. The ethical humanism, rationalism, and historical perspective of Neo-Confucian doctrine appealed to the official class.
A chawan is a bowl used for preparing and drinking tea. There are many types of chawan used in tea ceremonies, and the choice of their use depends upon many considerations. Chawan are classified according to their place of origin or manufacture, color, shape, materials and other characteristics. Chawan are also classified according to the type of tea that will be served in them. Although the Japanese word for the tea ceremony, chanoyu, literally means “hot water for tea,” the practice involves much more than its name implies. Chanoyu is a ritualized, secular practice in which tea is consumed in a specialized space with codified procedures. The act of preparing and drinking matcha, the powdered green tea used in the ceremony, is a choreographed art requiring many years of study to master. When presented with a bowl of tea, a guest will notice and reflect upon the warmth of the bowl and the color of the bright green matcha against the clay before he begins to drink.
Raku ware is a type of Japanese pottery that is traditionally used in the Japanese tea ceremony, most often in the form of tea bowls. It is traditionally characterized by being hand shaped rather than thrown; fairly porous vessels, which result from low firing temperatures; glazes; and the removal of pieces from the kiln while still glowing hot. In the traditional Japanese process, the fired raku piece is removed from the hot kiln and is allowed to cool in the open air or in a container filled with combustible material.
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