Potter: Takeharu Kobayashi
Approximate size: W2.4″ by H2.3″ or 6.0 by 5.8cm
This expertly crafted vessel was made by Takeharu Kobayashi (1943-). This potter works in the Shino tradition and this piece is a fantastic example of his craft. Kogo like this one are used to hold little pieces of incense which are later placed in-between the binchotan, which is a high quality (smokeless), type of charcoal used to heat water during the Tea ceremony. Kogo can also be used in a different typically Japanese pursuit; Kōdõ, or the appreciation of Japanese incense.
Kōdō (香道, “Way of Fragrance”) is the art of appreciating Japanese incense, and involves using incense within a structure of codified conduct.
Kogo are containers used to hold incense during the tea ceremony. Kogo vary depending on the season. In summer wooden kogo are used for holding chips of incense wood, and in winter ceramic kogo are used for holding kneaded incense intended for the hearth. During the tea ceremony, incense is added to the charcoal fire during the charcoal-laying procedure.
Pottery has been produced in the Mino area of Gifu prefecture since the Kamakura period (the end of the 12th century). The main names synonymous with Mino are Oribe, Shino and ki-Seto. It is said that Shino was the first ware to decorate its pieces with brush-drawn designs as shown on this example. Before the use of brush-drawn decorations potters had been carving, incising or were appliquéing their ideas and fantasies.
This kogo is an exemplary Shino piece and the photos really do not do justice to the atmosphere it emits, showcasing the true quality of Shino ceramics, a four hundred year old tradition that has produced some of the most spectacular tea ceremony vessels. Takeharu Kobayashi is little known overseas but has exhibited his work all over Japan. His kiln is located in Toki, Gifu prefecture, one of the cradles of Mino pottery.
The first Shino ware was developed during the Momoyama period (1568–1600), in kilns in the Mino and Seto areas. The glaze, composed primarily of ground local feldspar and a small amount of local clay, produced a satiny white color. It was the first white glaze used in Japanese ceramics. Wares decorated with Shino were fired in the anagama kilns used at that time. Anagama kilns were single-chambered kilns made from a trench in a hillside that was covered with an earthen roof. As the anagama kilns were replaced by the multi-chambered noborigama kilns during the first decade of the 17th century, Shino was supplanted by the Oribe ware glazes used in the newer kilns. Shino enjoyed a brief revival in the 19th century but then seemingly faded into obscurity.
The kogo has no chips or cracks and is in mint condition. Comes with the original signed paulownia tomobako with calligraphy on the side and a informational pamphlet about the artist. Guaranteed to be authentic.