Shoraku Sasaki III Raku Kangetsu Utsushi

Potter: Sasaki Shoraku, 3rd Generation

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

This Kuro-raku tea bowl in Tsutsu style was made by Sasaki Shoraku III (1944-). It is a utsushi or faithful replication of Kangetsu (winter moon). Clay is partly glazed in black Raku glaze. The original Kangetsu was created by Koho Hon’ami (1601-1682), who was an adopted child of Kōetsu Hon’ami. He had a keen appreciation for swords and studied tea ceremony and Japanese incense. Like Kōetsu Hon’ami, Koho also exercised his talent in calligraphy, engraving and ceramic.

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. Tsutsu chawan have been favored by disciples of Chano-yu for centuries.

Kōetsu Hon’ami, who due to his proficiency in multiple arts is also called the Japanese Da Vinci. He was more than likely a talented polymath like Leonardo. During his life he was considered to be great master in Calligraphy, Pottery and lacquer. In various other fields, arts and crafts he excelled. A historical figure of great significance not only in the evolution of Raku ware but in many fields of art and Japanese history in general.

The Hon’ami family, who had been employed by successive shogunate’s, established a system of sword appraisal and attribution (kantei), together with a pricing system for Nihonto, and issued authorized origami certificates.

The Connoisseur’s Book of Japanese Swords by Kōkan Nagayama

It is no wonder that with Kōetsu Hon’ami as a father-figure and teacher Koho Hon’ami also became a excellent artisan in various fields and even today makers attempt to emulate his famous works, such as Kangetsu.

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.

The black glaze is traditionally created from crushed stones retrieved from the Kamogawa river in Kyoto (abbreviated as Kamo river). Red glazes are mixtures of a translucent glaze over a clay body often fired multiple times to add “fu”. When bowls or utensils are glazed with with aka or the red Raku glaze they are fired at approximately 800 degrees where the black glaze is can reach a kiln temperature of up to 1200 degrees.

Five subtle peaks called “gogaku” (a name used exclusively for Raku ware).

The word is created from ‘go‘ meaning 5 and and ‘gaku‘ meaning mountain. In Raku the rim is formed to create the 5 peaks or 5 mountains – a gentle wave which besides being a unique touch of Raku-yaki is also pleasing when the rims touches the lips.

These “hills” prevent the chasen (tea whisk), from falling out when it is placed the rim but also it a unique touch and unique complexity.

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 pieces of Raku Yaki.

The chawan has no chips or cracks and is in excellent condition. Comes with the original gift-box. The chawan is stamped with Shoraku’s seal.


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The 7th generation Raku family descendant, Raku Chonyu, initialized gogaku and the sandai or 3rd. generation, Raku Donyu, already made bowls with a wavy rim, however, they were flatter in execution. Kichizaemon Chonyu perfected the technique and frequently made bowls with this feature.