Kosho Shimizu Zen-Monk & Former Abbot of Tōdai-ji Chawan

Potter: Shimizu Kosho

Approximate size: W4.7″ by by 4.6″ by H4.1″ or 11.9 by 12.0 by 10.6 cm

This chawan was made by the great Buddhist monk Kosho Shimizu (1911-1999). He is frequently referred to as the most famous monk of Japan for his interesting and impressive life. Remembered for his efforts in building and advancing the the Tōdai-ji Temple’s educational institutions and also for serving two consecutive terms there as Abbot. He became a monk at the young age of 16 but as far as his artworks are concerned – it was only during what were approximately the last 20 years of his life that he became a prolific creator of calligraphy, paintings, pottery and other endeavors. He’s remembered as having been a eccentric and highly unique artist. His artworks are highly acclaimed and sought after in Japan.

Joining Hogo-in at Todaiji Temple in 1927, he trained under Shimizu Kimitoshi to become a formal Buddhist monk. Before eventually becoming the head Priest he was sent to China during the war from which he returned in 1946. After serving two consecutive terms he retired and became the senior monk at Todaiji Temple and was given the Buddhist Missionary Culture Award.

This chawan is characteristic of the body of work he left behind – colorful, spontaneous and eccentrically unique. He left behind may works of art with these qualities, and quite well-known are his curious Buddha statues. Like in his ceramic work he enjoyed using bright and lively colors in his paintings too, as opposed to many artists who devoted life times to black sumi ink. This work was crafted in the same spirit as his famous mud Buddha’s, with its bright colors and a design that leaves much to the interpretation of the user. The bulbous shape retains heat well, similarly to tsutsu-chawan.

Imagine a person holding the chawan, slowly moving the bowl up. Before taking a gulp, inspecting the bowl, taking notice of the bright colors while gazing out of the window of a chashitsu (tea room). Pondering whether there is a meaning to the movement and abstract brushstrokes. Its design or lack thereof.
Outside, snowflakes are starting to drizzle down.

I think this would be an appropriate choice for use in one of the colder months of the year.

1911, January 3rd Shimizu Kosho (清水公焦), is born in the castle-town of Himeji
1927 Enters Tōdai-ji-Temple in Nara
1933 Graduates in Buddhist studies from the Literary Department at Ryokoku University and takes residence at the Tenryu-ji Temple for four years to study and practice Zen Buddhism under the guidance of the Abbot Seki Seisetsu (1877-1945)
1937 Appointed as Chief Priest of Tōdai-ji Temple, Ryuzoin and Joshoin
1946 Appointed as Chief Priest of Hogon-in Temple, the head of Tōdai-ji Temple
1947 Founded Seisei Junior High School (now called Tōdai-ji Gakuen), and becomes principal (and teaches Calligraphy)
1959 Appointed Director of the Tōdai-ji Kogakuin
1963 Appointed Directed of the Tōdai-ji Gakuen Kindergarten and Joshigakuin
It is around this time he created his famous Buddha statue called “Mud Buddha”
1969 Appointed as the head of the Huayan Sect, Head of Religious Affairs of the Kegon Tradition, president of Tōdai-ji Gakuen High School and assigned as deacon of Tōdai-ji Temple

continued below

The chawan has no chips or cracks. Condition is mint and possibly unused. It does not have a stamp or scratch signature but because the work is characteristic I guarantee authenticity. Comes with the original high quality paulownia shiho san tomobako or storage box with kiln stamp, Kosho’s seal and calligraphy on both sides of the lid.

475 400 + shipping cost

1971 Begins organizing a massive repair project surrounding the Great Buddha Hall at Showa University
1975 Appointed as a Buddhist Priest and he succeeds the 206th Abbot Kamitsukasa Kaiun (1907-1975), as the 207th Abbot of Tōdai-ji
1978 Reappointed as Abbot of Tōdai-ji
1980 Repairs of the Great Buddha Hall at the Showa University are completed and he held a memorial service for Ochikei Daisho
1981 Appointed Elder of the Tadai-ji Temple’s and resigning from position of Abbot of Tōdai-ji
1993 Received the Himeji City Arts and Culture Award
1994 Became Honorary Director of the newly opened Shosha Handicraft Museum in Himeji City for his donation of a large number of his artworks
1999 Passes on May 6th

Also interesting to note is that because of his heavy involvement of the repairs of the Great Buddha Hall, he served a double term as abbot of the Tōdai-ji Temple, which is not common practice