Potter: Ryozo Taniguchi
Approximate size: W2.6″ by W1.7″ by H1.6″ or 6.5 by 4.3 by 4.0 cm
This is a cute kogo or incense case in the shape of monk Jizō (one of the prominent figures in the lore and mythology of Japan), by Kyoto based potter Ryozo Taniguchi (1926-1996). This kogo is quite rare and not many references are available, featuring his early work. Early on he was prolific with a glaze ranging in colour from red to brown, such as the piece here. Later he changed his style to works with blue and green glazes in complex patterns.
Jizō Bosatsu is among the most readily recognizable of the many deities in the Buddhist pantheon and perhaps the most sympathetic. Called Ksitigarbha (“Earth Womb”), in Sanskrit, his worship originated in Central Asia. It reached Japan in the eighth century and flourished during the Kamakura period (1185–1333), in connection with the Pure Land sects. Although Jizō is invoked for many roles—as protector of travelers, of children, and of women in childbirth—he was especially venerated for his intervention on behalf of those suffering in hell, the lowest of the Six Realms of Existence.
Ryozo Taniguchi studied under Kiyomizu Rokubei VI and was selected for the first time at the great Nitten exhibition in 1951. During his life he amassed an amazing number of awards, such as the Kikka and Nitten Special Prize. In 1961, the Special Hokuto Award at the 4th Japan Fine Arts Exhibition. At the Japan Contemporary Craft Exhibition he took the Craft Prize and was requested to appear as a juror. Also served as a judge at the Kyoto Exhibition and the Nitten!
Won first prize at the Contemporary Ceramic Art Exhibition Of Japan, received the Koyu Prize and Tsujinaga Memorial Prize at the Kofu-Kai Exhibition. Awarded by the Ceramic Society Of Japan and participated in various international and many solo exhibitions (at the Nihonbashi Mitsukoshi Department Store and other prominent galleries). Too much to mention really. A famed potter in and outside Japan.
Jizō is often portrayed as a monk with an open, compassionate expression ready to hear the call of the suffering. In his hand is a traveler’s staff and sometimes a priest’s staff called ‘shakujo’ that has a total of six rings on it as a symbol of the extent of his mercy through all realms of being, and its clinking sound a signal of his foot’s fall lest he harm even the smallest creature.
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.
Hōnen (1133–1212) was the religious reformer and founder of the first independent branch of Japanese Pure Land Buddhism called Jōdo-shū (浄土宗, “The Pure Land School”). He established Pure Land Buddhism as an independent sect in Japan known as Jōdo-shū. Today Pure Land is an important form of Buddhism in Japan, China, Korea, and Vietnam. Pure Land schools make up almost 40 percent of Japanese Buddhism practitioners with the most temples, second to Chan schools.
The kogo, sealed by the potter has no chips or cracks and is in excellent condition. Comes with the original quality paulownia tomobako with kiln stamp and calligraphy on the lid and a cloth to keep Jizu warm when stored.
Thank you very much!
Many Japanese, even today, believe Jizō will save them at any time, in any situation, without any conditions or stipulations beyond simple faith. Even those who have already fallen into the pit of hell are promised assistance. Jizō is thus very popular and depicted in countless forms throughout Japan. Many originated in recent centuries and are unique to this island nation (not found elsewhere in Asia). It is no exaggeration to say that nearly all villages and localities have their own beloved Jizō statues straddled around and they’re frequently given unique names defining their specific salvific functions.