Shoraku Sasaki III Kuro-Raku Kaza-ore Utsushi

Potter: Sasaki Shoraku, 3rd Generation

Approximate size: W3.5″ by H4.1″ or 9.0 by 10.3cm

This tea bowl was fired in the kilns 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.

Kiyomizu temple, Kyoto, Japan

The Shoraku kiln was founded in 1905, by a nishiki-e (a type of woodblock print), painter from Kyoto named Kichinosuke Sasaki. The Kiyomizu Temple is part of the Daitokuji Temple group and played an important part in the success of this kiln. This was largely due to the support and guidance of Gotō Zuigan, who was a Buddhist monk and Rinzai Zen Master and the chief abbot of the temple group (Myōshin-ji and the Daitoku-ji temples), at this point in time. The monk who he succeeded was former head master Oda Sesshou and together they helped Kichinosuke Sasaki. The kiln became the new official kiln of the temple complex and worked to revive the former pottery that was made on temple grounds years earlier, which was called Murasakino yaki. Work was discontinued and seized activity completely in 1818. The pottery was named after the Murasakino Temple that originally housed the kiln. Later Kichinosuke Sasaki was bestowed the title of ‘Narumo-ken’ for the part he and the kiln played to the restoration of the temple group and revival of their lost pottery.

Utsushi Chawan

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This is a superb Utsushi (faithful replication), kuro Raku tea bowl called “Kaza-ore” which is originally made by Chojiro; the founder of Raku-yaki and was originally named after the shape of hat worn at the time. This form is called tsutsu chawan is typically dedicated for use during winter. It keeps the contents warmer for a longer amount of time than for instance a summer bowl which is shaped wider while the height is much lower.

Tsutsu chawan (筒茶碗), are characterized by a tall, cylindrical shape. It contains the warmth of tea during cold days for longer, as well as allowing us to warm our hands. Handmade, therefore unique, they are not only pleasing to the eye, but also capable of enhancing the arrangement of any tea-gathering.

This piece also has a noticeable “hasami-no-ato” or tong-marks from the moment when it was removed from the kiln. Along with the interesting asymmetrical shape seen in the walls this feature adds a certain unique touch to this piece already exquisite modelling work.

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.

Just to note, this chawan has one of the most beautiful koudai I have ever seen. The Raku archetype!

There are no chips or cracks and condition is excellent. Comes with the original high quality paulownia wooden box and stamped orange cloth. The tea bowl is stamped with Shoraku’s seal. A personal favorite.

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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.