Potter: Noutomi Choun (1921-1995)
Approximate size: W 5.1″ by H 3.5″ or 12.9 by 8.9 cm
This is a traditionally made Hagi ware chawan by the famous potter and former kiln-owner Noutomi (also spelled Notomi or Notoumi at times), Choun (1921-1995). He started studying pottery in 1951 and founded his kiln called O-Kazan-Choun gama. It is said his career began as a pottery wholesaler. Opened the kiln in 1967 and became independent. A little further down the road he received training at various other kiln sites. He produced mainly handcrafted objects and Hagi tea utensils.
This is a first class chawan and an excellent example of Hagi ware. Elegant in shape, unassuming in appearance and a feeling of warmth. From the triple legged foot, to the size which is close to works specifically made for the Tea ceremony. The glaze is also excellent and one of the main characteristics of Hagi ware. It features fine crackles and an array of colours that create an abstract landscape. Underneath, the area around the koudai or foot ring has Noutomi Choun’s defining scraped texture showing a darker subdued colour of the clay beneath the glaze.
The origins of Hagi ware can be traced back to the arrival of Korean potters to Hagi, a quaint town situated in Yamaguchi Prefecture on the Japan Sea, following Japan’s military invasion of the Korean peninsula in the late 16th century. As a result, a large number of Korean craftsmen were abducted and transported to Japan, where they played a crucial role in establishing new pottery types such as Satsuma, Arita, and Hagi ware.
The kiln is still active to this day and is headed by one of his sons who followed in the Choun name. The kiln and family proudly continue to create traditional Hagi pottery. Hagi ware is associated with the locale around Hagi City and its location in Yamaguchi prefecture. There is much information available on the current successor and family working at the kiln but about Noutomi Choun it was difficult to source confirmed information. Noutomi Choun was a great potter who won numerous awards and prizes during his life and also held the title Intangible Cultural Asset of Yamaguchi Prefecture.
There is a saying attributed to several tea masters (including Sen no Rikyu), regarding the ranking of tea ware. “First Ido, Second Raku, Third Karatsu —when referring to ceramic ware used for the Japanese tea ceremony. It is considered one of the top styles of pottery for use in tea ceremonies in Japan. Ido referring to Ido style chawan from Korea.
A variation of the above can be seen in the Japanese proverb on topic of wares used in the Tea ceremony. “Ichi-Raku, Ni-Hagi, San-Karatsu.” Loosely translated, here the saying ranks Raku first, followed by Hagi and thirdly Karatsu utensils.
The inside the bowl shows light features of use and it will only mature with more of it. Hagi ware is said to be only half complete once removed from the kiln, the other half of the proverbial coin comes from use. The keshiki or landscape that is seen in the shades of the glaze when viewing the bowl in hand will develop and change in appearance. Contrary to western thought old Hagi chawan with a history of use tend to become more valuable in Japan.
This chawan has no chips or cracks and condition is excellent. Complete with high quality paulownia shiho-san tomobako with kiln stamp and calligraphy on the side and an informational pamphlet.
€320 + shipping cost
The current master at the O-Kazan-Choun gama is Susumu Noutomi. Hagi yaki or ware often uses lighter colours like white and what is called biwa-iro (loquat colour), but Noutomi focuses on blue in his works. His blue works bring to mind the sea and the sky, with a deep hue that expressing the nature of the clay and the variations in glazing. Many works shine with unique techniques such as using through mastery, the temperature variations in the kiln – and making expert use of the characteristics of the raw materials and his technique on the wheel to continue the legacy of one of the famous Hagi family lines.