Potter: Sasaki Shoraku, 3rd Generation
Approximate size: W4.7″ by H3.1″ or 12.0 by 8.0cm
An aka Raku tea bowl by the sandai or third generation Raku potter Shoraku Sasaki. Created entirely by hand, the potter starts with approximately 1 kilogram of clay from which a rough bowl shape is recreated. Raku ware is different from other types of pottery in Japan, due to the fact a potter’s wheel is not used. The basic shape is further adjusted by use of (often), custom made (by the potter), tools. Once the bowl is fully dried it will have lost most of the original kilogram the potter started with. The finalized work is then given multiple coatings of glaze and is subsequently fired. Aka Raku or red Raku ware compared to black Raku can be given additional effects after its initial firing. When red Raku glazed wares are fired again with binchotan charcoal, the created effects are called ‘fu’. This tea bowl has delicately shaped fu which attesting to the quality of the work and the potter’s experience. The koudai is coated with a transparent glaze showcasing the clay used. Raku bowls can also be entirely coated in black or red glaze.
The areas of smoky black, which are hidden by the coating of white glaze, are known as ‘fu’, and are seen on traditional aka Raku. Fu is a colour change which occurs when fired surrounded by binchotan charcoal produced from Japanese Ubame oak. In other words, it is the burn mark created by binchotan. The surface of aka-Raku is like canvas fabric and the unique black designs of binchotan appear during firing in the kiln. Superb fu depends on the quality of binchotan charcoal and the skill of the craftsman to control the kiln’s fire.
The Shoraku kiln has been producing Raku wares for four generations and its bowls are widely used by practitioners of the tea ceremony across Japan. The founder of the Shoraku lineage established a kiln near the famous Kiyomizu temple in Eastern Kyoto. The kiln was moved to Kame-oka, near the Yada shrine in Kyoto, in 1945, as it is common to seek the patronage of a religious place in the Raku tradition. It is then that the head priest of the Yada shrine gave Shoraku his name. The third Shoraku inherited that name from his father in 1962.
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.
Founded in 1905, the Shoraku kiln was started 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 bowl is in mint condition and comes complete with the original high quality tomobako or wooden storage box that bears the artists mark and calligraphy on the side. The bowl carries Shoraku Sasaki the third’s upper echelon stamp on the bottom next to the koudai or foot ring. Topping it off, the inside of the lid carries the written appraisal by Sekio Fukumoto, who was the preceding head Priest of the Rinzai sect at the Shoshun-Ji Temple complex.
320 275 + shipping cost
松楽造 made by Shōraku (Sasaki Shoraku)
赤楽茶盌 Red Raku-yaki tea bowl
銘 瑞雲 Zuiun – Auspicious Clouds
前大徳 積應 叟 (saki no daitoku sekiō sō) – Sekiō
Fukumoto Sekio carrying the title of higher class Buddhist priest at Daitoku-ji Temple