Shosai Nagahisa Oni-Hagi Biwa Chawan

Potter: Nagahisa Shosai

Approximate size: W4.7″ by H3.4″ or 12.2 by 11.9 by 8.6 cm

The creator of this high class chawan is Shosai Nagahisa (1934-), who is a famous artist residing in Hagi City. This type of Hagi ware is most commonly referred to as Oni-Hagi (although it is seen more often in combination with a thick white ash glaze). Oni-Hagi is typically made with rough and porous clay with thick dripping glazes. This piece though rough in appearance has a very soft and warm quality to it and when it is sitting in your cupped hands it becomes obvious why Hagi ware has been around for so long. Hagi yaki emits a sense of warmth.

Shosai Nagahisa studied with Kyuwa Miwa (1895-1981), after which he established his own kiln and started creating his own wares. He has been good at producing Oni-Hagi with dynamic and abstract shapes.

This chawan fits that description perfectly.

Formed by wheel throwing, from rough and course yet refined Hagi clay, this bowl was then shaped further to this grail-like form and glazed with thick biwa and milky translucent glazes. The white overflowing glaze traditionally contains feldspar and wood ash.

Hagi yaki has a tradition stretching back over 400 years and is a high-fired stoneware type of pottery. Hagi ware is prized for its subdued colors and classical features, especially the glazing is often clear and vivid. Hagi is also well known for frequently utilizing a milky, flowing white over-coating and crackled glazing. Typical Hagi ware is either white or a warm loquat or ‘Biwa’ orange in color with no decoration. Its austere form might seem bland and unfinished at first sight but this is because Hagi ware is not complete until it is used. Not only is Hagi ware created for the explicit purpose of being used, but that it also dramatically changes color through use.

To create pottery with biwa textures a transparent glaze also known as wood-ash glaze and earth ash glaze is used to coat the clay. It is a solvent solution of ash from various varieties of trees, such as pine, saw-tooth oak, Isu tree and Japanese oak. For Hagi yaki, this mixture is combined with feldspar minerals at a ratio of approximately 5:5 to make a compound. During the firing process the amalgamation of clay and glaze creates a lemon yellow color. In the case of tea ware, this glaze is known as ‘Biwayū’ after the orange colored loquat fruit (biwa fruit), and is a highly appreciated aspect of this glaze.

There are no chips or cracks and the chawan is in excellent condition. Shipped with the original high quality paulownia tomobako, storage box. The chawan has a small area on the interior rim where the clay shows as shown in the photos.


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There is a saying attributed to several tea masters (including Sen no Rikyu), regarding the ranking of tea ware. “First Ido, Second Raku, Third Karatsu —when referring to ceramic ware used for the Japanese tea ceremony. It is considered one of the top styles of pottery for use in tea ceremonies in Japan. Ido referring to Ido style chawan from Korea.

A variation of the above can be seen in the Japanese proverb on topic of wares used in the Tea ceremony. “Ichi-Raku, Ni-Hagi, San-Karatsu.” Loosely translated, here the saying ranks Raku first, followed by Hagi and thirdly Karatsu utensils.