Shoraku Sasaki III Shiro-Raku Tsutsu Chawan

Potter: Sasaki Shoraku, 3rd Generation

Approximate size: W3.7″ by H3.6″ or 9.5 by 9.2cm

This exemplary white Raku tsutsu chawan was fired in the kilns of one of Kyoto’s best known Raku yaki potters, Sasaki Shoraku III (1944-). Rarely have I seen works like this. From this chawan appearance it can be deduced that it was first fired with the traditional aka or red Raku glaze, followed by 2nd firing to add the fu or darker clouds. Then fired a third time to add the white glaze and a fourth time to seal the underlying layers with a translucent glaze. Fired 4 times at the least, this bowl surely is a standout from other Raku and for me personally, my appreciation for pottery is enhanced by knowledge of the manufacturing processes and the world around it. A favorite.

This form is called tsutsu chawan and is typically dedicated for use during winter. This type keeps the contents warmer for a longer amount of time than for instance a summer bowl which is shaped wider giving the tea inside a larger surface area to cool.

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 and unique, they are not only pleasing to the eye, but also capable of enhancing the arrangement of any tea-gathering. This shape is highly coveted by amateurs and Tea-masters alike.

Raku tea bowls are made by a special hand-building technique known as ‘tezukune‘, a method of slab forming (distinct from coiling or pinching). In the tezukune technique, the potter presses a ball of clay into a thick disc and then raises the edges bit by bit to shape a bowl that fits comfortably into one’s cupped hands.

A tradition dating from the mid-16th century, Raku tea bowls are made by hand, without the use of a potter’s wheel; giving them a distinctly human feel. In the process of shaping the bowls, potters handle the tea bowls in much the same manner that users will hold them as they drink from them. In this way, we can imagine a connection is formed between the creator of the tea bowl and the participants in the tea ceremony. For this and other reasons stemming from historical circumstances, Raku bowls are considered a favorite of tea practitioners across Japan.

This pottery lineage began with the great-grandfather of the current successor. He 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 until today.

Kiyomizu temple, Kyoto, Japan

The Shoraku kiln was founded in 1905, by a nishiki-e (a type of woodblock print), painter from Kyoto named Kichinosuke Sasaki. The Kiyomizu Temple is part of the Daitokuji Temple group and played an important part in the success of this kiln. This was largely due to the support and guidance of Gotō Zuigan, who was a Buddhist monk and Rinzai Zen Master and the chief abbot of the temple group (Myōshin-ji and the Daitoku-ji temples), at this point in time. The monk who he succeeded was former head master Oda Sesshou and together they helped Kichinosuke Sasaki. The kiln became the new official kiln of the temple complex and worked to revive the former pottery that was made on temple grounds years earlier, which was called Murasakino yaki. Work was discontinued and seized activity completely in 1818. The pottery was named after the Murasakino Temple that originally housed the kiln. Later Kichinosuke Sasaki was bestowed the title of ‘Narumo-ken’ for the part he and the kiln played to the restoration of the temple group and revival of their lost pottery.

The chawan has no chips or cracks and condition is excellent. Comes with the original high quality paulownia tomobako and a pamphlet about the potter. The chawan is stamped with Shoraku’s seal. A rare piece.

€330+ shipping cost