Antique Kyo Tsuru Chawan

Chawan: Mumei or unsigned

Approximate size: W4.4″ by H3.3″ or 11.3 by 8.4 cm

This is a fine chawan that (to me), talks of another time. Well made and well cared for, full of character. I would roughly date it to the late, perhaps mid Edo period and is in a great state of preservation. Based on a half cylinder shape with walls that slope outwards creating a gently curved shoulder. This shape is somewhat typical for works made in Kyoto. After potting the bowl was given a white coating of glaze upon which a minimalist tsuru or crane is hand drawn expertly. Its incredible atmosphere is enhanced when once you consider the flawlessness of the brush work, the simplicity of the design and the manner in which the overall scene is presented in a minimalistic way. The bowl is unsigned so exact original is to be a mystery, but surely it was somewhere in or around Kyoto. A superb and above all charming piece.

Kyo yaki or Kyo ware refers to a style of ceramics that spread from the Higashiyama area in Kyoto during the early Edo period of the Tokugawa rule (henceforth this family line continually ruled Japan for more than 250 years). It was around this time that the art of Chanoyu or the Tea ceremony became popular and widespread in Japan. By contrast, the pottery produced along Gojo-zaka, a street leading to Kiyomizu Temple was called Kiyomizu yaki. Nowadays all pottery produced in Kyoto is commonly referred to as Kyo or Kiyomizu ware.

Some shrubbery is painted in a stylish and minimalist way

This chawan has no chips or cracks and condition is exceptionally good considering the age. The bowl and box are mumei, unsigned. This piece has always been given the greatest care. Comes with a quality shiho-san paulownia tomobako or storage box. I will add a high quality silk tea cloth to boot.

€450 + shipping cost

Ninsei Nonomura wasn’t originally from Kyoto but moved there around 1647 after having studied ceramics and glazing techniques in Seto province. Having connections to the great Tea master Kawamori Sowa (1585-1656), he had ample means to develop and market his works once settled in Kyoto. It is said he was the first potter to sign his works regarding them as art, more so than simple disposable vessels.

Kenzan Ogata was a student of Ninsei Nonomura but developed to become a master potter and defined his own style and was regarded a master in his own right. His main identifiers are brushwork decorations that have ties to literature, painting and various other fields. Kenzan like his teacher also signed his works. And many are in museums around the world.