Potter: Noutomi Choun (1921-1995)
Approximate size: W 4.8″ by H 3.2″ or 12.8 by 8.3 cm
This is a traditionally handmade Hagi chawan or tea bowl by the famous potter and Noutomi Choun (1921-1995). The name is also seen spelled Notomi or Notoumi at times. He started studying pottery in 1951 and founded his kiln called O-Kazan-Choun gama. It is said his career began as a pottery wholesaler and later turned to pottery. He opened the kiln in 1967 and became independent. A little further down the road he received training at various other kiln sites. He produced mainly handcrafted objects and Hagi tea utensils.
The kiln is still active to this day and is headed by one of his sons who inherited his father’s name (Choun). The kiln and family proudly continue to create traditional Hagi pottery. Hagi ware is associated with the locale around Hagi City and its location in Yamaguchi prefecture. Noutomi Choun won numerous awards and prizes during his life and also held the title Intangible Cultural Asset of Yamaguchi Prefecture for his work. There is much information available on the current successor and family working at the kiln but about Noutomi Choun it was difficult to source confirmed information.
The origins of Hagi ware can be traced back to the arrival of Korean potters to Hagi, a quaint town situated in Yamaguchi Prefecture on the Japan Sea, following Japan’s military invasion of the Korean peninsula in the late 16th century. As a result, a large number of Korean craftsmen were abducted and transported to Japan, where they played a crucial role in establishing new pottery types such as Satsuma, Arita, and Hagi ware.
This remarkable chawan has the look of classic bowls from the Edo period, with its fine crackled glaze which seems to have been polished by time. The glaze is reminiscent of powder glazes termed kobiki (also spelled ‘kohiki’ at times). The shape of this bowl is unassuming and the area around the koudai or foot ring has this artist’s hallmark scraped texture accompanied by the subdued darker color of the clay.
The current master at the O-Kazan-Choun gama is Susumu Noutomi. Hagi yaki or ware often uses lighter colors like white and what is called biwa-iro (loquat color), but Noutomi focuses on blue in his works. His blue works bring to mind the sea and the sky, with a deep hue that expressing the nature of the clay and the variations in glazing. Many works shine with unique techniques such as using through mastery, the temperature variations in the kiln – and making expert use of the characteristics of the raw materials and his technique on the wheel to continue the legacy of one of the famous Hagi family lines.
For me his style of work always seem to emanate a wonderful sense of harmony, between form and function, aesthetics and nature. The inside the bowl shows sign of it going through one of the seven lives of a Hagi chawan; it will only mature with use and the keshiki or landscape that is seen in the shades of the glaze when viewing the bowl in hand will develop and evolve. Contrary to western thought old Hagi chawan with a history of use tend to become more valuable in Japan.
This chawan by master and originator of the Choun name as a staple of Hagi ware has no chips or cracks and is in excellent condition. Accompanied by a a high quality paulownia shiho-san tomobako with kiln stamp and calligraphy on the side plus an informational pamphlet.
275 225 + shipping cost
Nowadays the daughter of Noutomi Choun’s successor is also working with clay. Her name is Noutomi Naoki and she’s creating art and tea objects as well. She is skilled at impressing her own personality on the Hagi-yaki items, scoring deep lines and engraving strong designs which capture her bold, young spirit.