Potter: Sasaki Shoraku, 3rd Generation
Approximate size: W4.8″ by H3.1″ or 12.2 by 12.3 by 8.0cm
This tea bowl was fired in the kiln of one of Kyoto’s best known Raku yaki potters, Sasaki Shoraku III (1944-). The Shoraku line began when the grandfather of the current potter established a kiln near the famous Kiyomizu temple, nestled at the foot of the eastern mountains in Kyoto. In 1945, the kiln was moved to Kameoka near the Yada shrine where it remains today.
Raku tea bowls are made by a special hand-building technique known as ‘tezukune‘, a method of slab forming (distinct from coiling or pinching). In the tezukune technique, the potter presses a ball of clay into a thick disc and then raises the edges bit by bit to shape a bowl that fits comfortably into one’s cupped hands.
This utsushi or replica tea bowl imitates the famous National Treasure “Toyobo” (Touyoubou), tea bowl by Chojiro, the first generation of the Kichizaemon family who produced tea-ware for Sen no Rikyu – the famous tea-master. It is said that Toyobo was a friend of Rikyu that lived in Shinnyo-do. Rikyu gave him the bowl, and named it after him.
High quality duplication traditionally has been admired for established Japanese ceramics since creating high quality duplication requires extremely skilled and broad-based techniques in all aspects of creation, and often compels the artisan to meticulously recreate an atmosphere which often was created on accident by the original artisan. Only a few artisans can duplicate historical treasured arts of Raku Yaki.
This Toyobo utsushi has kintsugi repair work, a traditional form of repairing ceramic and porcelain pieces that were damaged and broken. Kintsugi is the general concept of highlighting or emphasizing imperfections, visualizing mends and seams as an additive or an area to celebrate or focus on, rather than absence or missing pieces and is part of the concept of wabi sabi 侘寂 (the acceptance of transience and imperfection). The technique involves using the poisonous lacquer which makes it an elaborate endeavor to have a piece repaired using this method, especially from outside Asia. Only after the process has been completed by a professional and the lacquer is dried completely is it safe to use and extremely durable.
The sap of the lacquer tree, today bearing the technical description of “urushiol-based lacquer”, has traditionally been used in Japan. As the substance is poisonous to the touch until it dries, the creation of lacquerware has long been practiced only by skilled dedicated artisans.
The chawan has no chips or cracks and is in excellent condition with kintsugi work. Comes with the original high quality tomobako and dedicated tomonuno (tea-cloth), encased in the original carton. Note this chawan is stamped with Shoraku’s upper echelon seal.
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A tradition dating from the mid-16th century, Raku tea-bowls are made by hand, without the use of a potter’s wheel; giving them a distinctly human feel. In the process of shaping the bowls, potters handle the tea bowls in much the same manner that users will hold them as they drink from them. In this way, we can imagine a connection is formed between the creator of the tea bowl and the participants in the tea ceremony. For this and other reasons stemming from historical circumstances, Raku bowls are considered a favorite of tea practitioners across Japan.