Potter: Miyashita Zenju
Approximate size: W6.2″ by H2.3″ or 16.0 by 6.0 cm
This is a Kyo chawan, ceremonial tea bowl with a white or shiro glaze by distinguished potter Miyashita Zenju (1901-1988). The tea bowl’s shape is called ‘badarai-gata’ and denotes a wide and low form. Directly translated it means “horse bucket” (gata meaning shape). The term is said to come from the shape of so called horse buckets commonly seen at horse stables during the Edo period. Miyashita Zenju, is as you might suspect related to Miyashita Zenji, Zenji was his son and his student. Miyashita Zenju was born in Kyoto in 1901 and after attending a night course at the Kyoto Ceramics Research Institute, at 17 years of age started making ceramics (this would’ve around 1918). Additionally studying in Manchuria and Korea, he came home and in 1929 joined the Japan Ceramic Art Association. He formally studied under Kawamura Seizan (Tonzan), and in 1930 apprenticed himself under Kusube Yaichi. Eager for knowledge and experience he is known to have travelled to China and Korea to study their traditions and techniques.
In a nutshell, Bunten and Teiten were official, state-controlled, juried art exhibitions. Nitten replaced them after the war. The meaning of these official exhibition societies for the world of Japanese arts was pretty comparable to the French Salon in the second half of the nineteenth century. The conservative Salon was the institution most hated by the French impressionists – their works were regularly rejected by the jury. And without a representation by the Salon, an artist had hardly any chance to sell anything to private collectors.
Miyashita Zenju exhibited both before; at the Bunten Exhibition, where he was selected for the first time in 1937, and after the war with the Nitten National Exhibitions. During his career he frequently took part in competitions, not only as an artist and potter but also as judge and councillor. His works were part of the 1939 and 1940 World Exposition and in 1975 he was awarded the coveted Prime Minister’s Award at the Nitten. His list of awards include Kyoto’s Craft & Fine Art Award and in 1982 he was given the Municipal Cultural Merit award from Kyoto City. His works are in the Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art as well as the Kyoto National Museum. After world war 2 ended he actively worked on the revival of ceramic traditions of Kyoto and he’s remembered as one of the leading figures in Kyoto’s art circles.
After the end of the Pacific war the attribute Imperial was no longer trendy. Everything was reorganized and renamed. In 1946 the Imperial Art Academy became The Japan Fine Arts Exhibition, abbreviated as Nitten. The Nitten developed into a larger organization that features multiple departments. Today the Nitten has five art faculties, Japanese Style Painting, Western Style Painting, Sculpture, Craft as Art and Calligraphy.
The chawan bears the master’s seal and condition is excellent. There are no flaws. Comes complete with the original, high quality shiho san paulownia tomobako, storage box with calligraphy, kiln stamp & seal on the lid.