We would like to express our deepest gratitude for your support of the Gojo-Chawan-zaka Network.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, various events have been cancelled this year. However, we are attempting to explore a new way to connect to the future by showcasing actual artworks, sharing exhibition updates and creating catalogues for our main (and only) event, “WAN wan ONE Exhibition”.
This was made possible with the aid of the government and our sponsors. We truly appreciate their cooperation.
The 10th exhibition next year marks a significant milestone for our organization and we would like to ask for your ongoing guidance and cooperation.
Tosai Yamada, Head of the Gojo-Chawan-zaka Network
“WAN wan One” ― Looking into the current status of contemporary Kyo-yaki Artists
The origin of chawan (tea bowls) is found in the celadon and white porcelain tea bowls that were popular in the 8th century Tang Dynasty period in China. The tea drinking culture flourished throughout the country of China during this period. At that time, the common type of tea bowls was hirawan, or outward-curving bowls with a rim opening out towards the top. This style persisted with later styles of Chinese tea bowls (karamono chawan) such as the tenmoku chawan of the Song period as well as those that employed glazing techniques prominent in the Ming period, including sometsuke (underglaze cobalt blue and white), polychrome overglaze painting or colored glazing. Further, this movement is reflected in Korean tea bowls, such as the korai celadon tea bowls, and the ido, mishima and hakeme (brush mark) tea bowls.
zOn the other hand, the first tea bowl made in Japan in the Azuchi-Momoyama period (1568 -1600) took a cylindrical form where the body of the bowl is raised vertically. Examples can be seen in kiseto chawan and setoguro chawan from the Mino area in Gifu Prefecture. In addition, the raku tea bowl, favored by Sen no Rikyu in Kyoto, was also made in a tubular shape, but drawn on a semi-cylindrical-shaped silhouette which extended from the kodai (the foot part) to the body, allowing a more sophisticated fit when holding it in the hands. These cylindrical or semi-cylindrical tea bowls were newly created in Japan and never existed in the traditional tea bowls from China and Korea.
The shapes of hirawan and the cylindrical and semi-cylindrical tea bowls of East Asia are mixed and integrated into Japanese pottery. Similarly, the Japanese-origin cylindrical and semi-cylindrical forms later influenced the gohonte chawan and goki chawan of the Korean Peninsula, as well as the Chinese old-dyed tea bowls and shonzui tea bowls. All of these techniques have been passed down to the present day as the fundamental form of chawan.
While this essay has been tracing back the history of chawan, focusing on the shapes, the exhibition “WAN wan One” also explores a collection of tea bowls and sake cups that are made in the different forms described above, and reflecting each artist’s unique interpretation of beauty through color and pattern. Moreover, by taking a close look at each and every piece, it becomes apparent that the exhibition showcases an abundance of pottery glazing techniques from white porcelain, celadon, iron glaze, tenmoku glaze, Jun ware, sometsuke glaze, polychrome and overglaze painting, through to gold and silver overglazes, ido, hakeme, gohonte, raku, and white and blue glaze. The diversity of styles and the common sophisticated modeling aesthetics, as well as the elegance observed in the motif of the overglaze painting, are reminders of the grandeur of the truly Kyoto pottery collection. Despite being organized in a time of unprecedented pandemic, the exhibition brings together works by more than 100 contemporary Kyo-yaki artists, reporting their current status: how they continued to be inspired to craft new artwork that passes on hope for tomorrow.
(Professor emeritus, Kyoto University of Art and Design, Advisor of the Gojo-Chawan-zaka Network)