Potter: Ichiraku Kuroi
Approximate size: W 2.8″ by H 1.6″ or 7.0 by 4.0 cm
This futaoki or lid rest was made by the great potter Ichiraku Kuroi (1914-1996). He was designated as a Human Intangible Cultural Asset of Okayama prefecture in 1980 for his techniques and knowledge of Mushiake pottery. There are various theories on the origin of Mushiake yaki but there is no widely accepted consensus on the specifics. Accepted theory is that it started approximately 300 years ago, when Mushiake district was governed by the Iki family. The patriarch of the family was the head of the retainers in Okayama Province and received a stipend of 33,000 koku (which equals an area of about a thousand inhabitants).
Futaoki are an integral item as this is where the lid of a chagama, tea-kettle is placed during some of the steps of all types of formal Chanoyu.
Influenced by Kyoto style, thinly made Mushiake yaki emits a sensitive and refined atmosphere. The forms and traditional shapes are often associated with the old Kyoto ceramic styles and are often described as being rustic in appearance. Additional glazes makes gradients to the original colors of quiet blue, red and yellow possible – all made using variations of ash glaze! The different ways of burning pinewood in huge amounts can also have an effect on the outcome of the final product.
The greatest appeal of Mushiake ware is its quiet character and subdued colors that come from the use of ash glaze. The transparent glaze which gives distinctive taste to Mushiake ware is made from refined natural pine tree ash. Potter take great care in choosing clay and ash because quality of the clay is determinant of the color of the ware and the glaze is also dependent on the final quality in chawan or other utensil. Mushiake yaki goes well with any kind of pottery, particularly at tea ceremonies and this is one of its great strengths.
It is said to have started under the name “Oniwa yaki”, which was due to a habit of a number of feudal lords in the area to invite potters to create works of their liking. During that time the 14th Iki Tadasumi, a tea master in his own right invited many potters of great skill from Kyoto (Seifu Yohei, Raku Chozo and Miyagawa Kouzan to name a few). From then on acted as a supervisor of the newly created Mushiake yaki which from then on was heavily influenced by the delicate style characteristic of Kyoto pottery. His active participation in the Tea ceremony as a master meant that Mushiake yaki was intended for ceremonial use and was not available to the general public. Which is why Mushiake ware was never produced in large numbers.
The futaoki, stamped by the potter with the seal of Mushiake ware and his signature has no chips or cracks and is in mint condition. Comes with the original high quality paulownia tomobako, storage box with kiln stamp and calligraphy on inside of the lid, a dedicated tomonunu or tea cloth and an additional pamphlet with information on the potter.
€150 + shipping cost