Art of the Week

Japanese, Edo (1615-1868)
Tea Bowl (Chawan) with Hagaki Fence Pattern, 1700-99
Pottery, Shino Kiln, 6 cm. diam

The Edo period is the period between 1615 to 1868 in the history of Japan. 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. During this period, Japan studied Western sciences and techniques through the information and books received from Dutch traders. The studies included geography, medicine, natural sciences, astronomy, art, languages, physical sciences, and mechanical sciences. The flourishing of Neo-Confucianism was the major intellectual development. This system increased attention to a secular view of man and society. 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. The intimate setting of the tea room, which is usually only large enough to accommodate four or five people, is modeled on a hermit’s hut. In this space, often surrounded by a garden, the participants temporarily withdraw from the mundane world. In the tea room, the emphasis is on the interaction between the host, guests, and tea utensils. The host will choose an assemblage of objects specific to that gathering and use those utensils to perform the tea preparations in front of the guests. Each tea gathering is a unique experience, so a particular assemblage of objects and people is never repeated. 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.

Shino ware is Japanese pottery and stoneware made in Mino Province, in modern-day Gifu Prefecture, Japan. It is identified by thick white glazes, red scorch marks, and a texture of small holes. Shino ware is one of the Mino styles that dates to the late 16th century. Like other Mino wares, the Shino style is based on older Seto ware with changes to shape, decoration, and finish. Forms are usually squat and cylindrical, thick but lightweight. Dishes, bowls, and tea utensils are most common. Pieces can be grey, red, or white, painted with iron oxide or decorated with glaze. Firings of Shino tend to be of lower temperature for a longer period of time, and then a slow cooling process. These conditions do not allow the glaze to melt fully, and the result is a thick glaze that often has a crawling pattern.

Hagaki is a postcard or other paper.

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Mason, Penelope E., History of Japanese art / New York : Abrams, 1993. QUARTO N7350 .M26 1993
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Pekarik, Andrew. Japanese ceramics from prehistoric times to the present / Southampton, N.Y. : Parrish Art Museum, c1978. NK4167 .P44
Sanders, Herbert H. The world of Japanese ceramics, Tokyo ; Palo Alto, Calif. : Kodansha International, [1967] TP804 .J3 S3 1967
Mikami, Tsugio, The art of Japanese ceramics. New York, Weatherhill [1972] NK4167 .M4613
Japanese tea ceremony. By: Hoar, J. W.. Design for Arts in Education, May/June 1982, Vol. 83, p37-39, 3p
Some Japanese tea taste ceramics. By: LEE, Sherman Emery. Bulletin of the Cleveland Museum of Art, November 1973, Vol. 60, p267-278, 12p
Tea-ceremony pottery and export porcelain. By: LERNER, Martin. Bulletin of the Cleveland Museum of Art, November 1967, Vol. 54, p266

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