Masaru Kamei Seto Dragonfly Yunomi

Potter: Kamei Masaru

Approximate size: W2.7″ by 3.5 by H2.0″ or 7.0 by 9.0cm

This is a yunomi – tea cup by exhibition-potter Masaru Kamei (1933-), very much recognizable as coming from his hands. Now retired, Masaru Kamei worked in the Seto style which is centered around unsurprisingly; Seto City, in modern day Aichi prefecture. This cup is shaped meticulously, as much so that when I first held the cup, it felt so precisely shaped it could’ve been a design article without purpose. Glazed in black and effectively given a simple design by means of horizontal and vertical lines. Finished with what looks like a pair of carefree drawn dragonflies, ‘tonbo’ in Japanese.

The dragonfly or ‘tonbo’ is emblematic of martial success, as various names for the insect are homophones for words meaning “victory”. The dragonfly is also auspicious because references in the Kojiki and Nihongi link it in both name and shape to the old kingdom of Yamato.”

Merrily Baird, Symbols of Japan

Masaru Kamei was born in Aichi prefecture in 1933. He studied and graduated from Aichi prefecture’s Seto pottery senior high school before apprenticing himself under his father, a master potter in his own right. He won his first prize at the Nitten Exhibition in 1953 and was the youngest to win this prize ever in its history. However after he received his first prize in 1953, he quit to exhibit his works at any exhibitions for several years to concentrate and refocus himself on creating his original pottery style. When he felt he had a style of his own (a style of metallic and abstract works created with black clay). Masaru Kamei became famous as an avant-garde potter in Japan and his outstanding works received many prizes. He also held many trainings abroad and his works has received high evaluation both in and out of the country.

1967 Contemporary Crafts & Arts Exhibition, received the Contemporary Crafts Award 1972 The Foreign Minister’s Award at Japan Modern Art Crafts Exhibition
1973 The Chun-ichi International Ceramic Exhibition Grand Prize
1974 & 1976 Nitten Exhibition Special Award
1992 Aichi Prefecture Arts and Culture Award, Culture Award, Frankfurt City, Germany
1993 Tradition and Avant-garde Crafts Exhibition in Japan Today, Bremen, Germany
1994 The Japan Modern Art Crafts Exhibition Prime Minister Prize
1996 Contemporary Crafts Japan’s New Arts and Crafts Exhibition
Received Aichi prefecture’s Education Award (Culture)
2000 The Japan Modern Art Crafts Exhibition Minister for Education Prize
Seto Province’s Public Merit Award
2012 The 44th Nitten Exhibition Minister of Education Prize
Minister of Science’s Commendation at the 44th Fine Arts Exhibition of Education, Culture & Sports

The dragonfly or tonbo, was also called kachimushi in earlier times, and due to the auspicious literal meaning “victory bug” of the characters of this word it became a popular theme on sword fittings.

Kurogane no hana or ‘Iron tsuba’ exhibition, The Japanese Sword Museum, 2014

Seto ware is the pottery made in Seto City and nearby areas of modern Aichi prefecture. This area was the center of pottery manufacture in the Kamakura period; ko-Seto (old-Seto), designates pieces made at this time. At the end of the Muromachi period the center of the pottery manufacture moved to nearby Mino. At that time wares made in the area from Seto to Mino were called Seto-yaki.

In the early Edo period, some pottery manufacture moved back to Seto. In 1822 Kato Tamikichi (1722-1824), introduced sometsuke jiki (blue-and-white porcelain; sometsuke), from Arita in modern Saga prefecture. This porcelain was called shinsei, or new production rather than the original Seto ware pottery, Hongyou became standard. The Japanese term Setomono is also used as a generic term for all pottery. Seto is one of the Six Ancient Kilns of Japan.

Masaru Kamei won the Blue-ribbon award, the highest award for potters at the Nitten Exhibition in 1974 and in 1976

Comes with the original high quality paulownia tomobako with kiln stamp and calligraphy on the lid. The yunomi is hand signed and in very good condition. Also includes a tomonunu or tea cloth.

€100 + shipping cost

During the Meiji period, Seto ware adapted Western techniques, gaining great popularity. In addition to plain Seto, the Mino kilns also produced several types of Seto wares from the mid 16th century, including Seto-guro (black Seto), and Ki-Seto (yellow Seto). Ki-seto, fired at the same kilns as Shino and Seto-guro wares during the Momoyama period, featured “fried bean-curd” glaze, Aburagede (油揚げ abura-age or aburage), developed in emulation of Chinese celadons. It utilizes an iron-rich wood-ash glaze and is reduction fired at a high temperature to produce a texture and bone color alike celadon; in an oxygen-rich kiln, the minerals in the clay and glaze create a distinctive opaque yellow glaze.