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Edo 1

  Excavated Edo Oribe Teabowl - 16th. century     1.450 $


Cylinder shaped (Hantsutsu - slightly destorted but not a Kutsugata yet) tea bowl made of light, rough Mino clay. The fastly but expertly thrown body in the style of a Narumi-oribe bowl, which is a variation of green Oribe style. The whole body with the exception of the foot and it surrounding area are covered with a thin ash glaze, a low iron content of the body has coloured the the glazed part light brown; the brim is accented with copper oxide glaze. The underglaze decoration in iron oxide consists  of blossoms (Mon ?) and a fence like design, both highlighted with white engobe. The bowl is thinly thrown and light for its size. Inside the foot ring is an incised + mark.

The piece is part of a lot of excavated ceramics acquired in Japan. Six pieces have been subject to thermoluminescence (TL) tests confirming an age between 490 and 280 year with a margin of error of +/- 20%. This confirmes a manufacturing date around 1630, the final period of the production of tea ceremony utensils in Mino (Arakawa Toyozo restarted the production of Mino ceramics in Momoyama style about 1930).


Dm: 14.8 cm

H:   8.2 cm

Dm Foot:    6.7 cm




                                           Edo Chawan with Goldrepair made by the Sonkai Family for the Hosokawa Clan                                             



This rare chawan (tea bowl) is a Koda-yaki (Koda ware) from the Edo period (1615-1868). Koda ware, also known as Yatsushiro ware, is a celadon pottery with a grayish greenish-blue crackle glaze, usually with a white inlay pattern originally made in the town of Koda (current Kumamoto prefecture in Kyushu) under the patronage of the Hosokawa clan (the most famous Japanese Samurai Kin Group!), from the beginning of the 17th century.

Lord Hosokawa was instructed in the tea ceremony by the great tea master Sen no Rikyu, and the wares of his kilns soon found favor with Kobori Enshu, another famous tea master of that period.

After the invasions of Korea by the Japanese forces led by Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1536?-1598) many Japanese warlords, who were tea ceremony practitioners, came back to Japan with Korean potters, who were asked to produce tea utensils for their exclusive use.

On the return of the expedition sent by the Taiko to Korea (1598), a potter named Chon'gye (aka Chon-Hae KIM, Sonkai and Sonkai KIN in Japanese; he later changed his name to Agano Kizo and Juji Kizo) was brought from Fusan by order of Kato Kiyomasa.  Around this time, under Tadaoki Hosokawa's instructions , Chon-Hae KIM (aka Sonkai KIN) and his eldest son Chube (Chobei) established Koda-yaki ( Koda ceramics ) at a place called Koda-go ( Koda hamlet ) in Yatsushiro County .

Years laer, that man and his sons erected a kiln at Agano (1602), and, as was naturally the case with the Korean workmen who came to Japan at that time, began to manufacture faience after the fashions of his country.

No authentic specimens of his early work have been preserved. His name was subsequently changed to Juji Kizo, and he is generally spoken of by Japanese connoisseurs as Agano Kizo. He remained at Agano until 1631, when the feudal chief of the district, Hosokawa Tadayoshi, receiving the
province of Higo as his fief, moved to Yatsushiro, and was followed thither by Kizo, his eldest son, Chube (aka Chobei), and his third son, Toshiro. The second son, Magozaemon Sonkiu, remained at Agano and carried on the manufacture. The expenses of the factory were entirely defrayed by the local government, Magozaemon and his descendants receiving a yearly pension in lieu of wages. The articles produced were not sold, being reserved solely for official use.
(Reference: Frank Brinkley. Japan, its history, arts and literature Volume 8)

This particular bowl was obviously made for and used by the Hosokawa clan as it bears the kamon (family crest) of that old Japanese family, who has had much influence in the shaping of Japan until these days. There is no doubt, that this chawan was made either by Sonkai or by one of his sons (most likely Chube (Chobei)) for the Hosokawa Clan. As it is a historical fact, that Sonkai and his eldest son established together Koda-yaki at a place called Koda-go in Yantsushiro County.

In an interesting twist of history, a descendant of the Hosokawa clan, Hosokawa Morihiro (16th Hosokawa family head, born in 1938), Prime Minister from 1993 to 1994, is now retired and a very talented potter.

The chawan who must have been broken during its long history has been repaired, not recently, with lacquer and gold. It is a remarkable example of the Japanese wabi-sabi aesthetics, where age and wear are also parts of harmony and beauty.

The tea bowl comes in a vintage box, whose lid bears an attestation of its noble origin.

Dimensions: 10 x 6.5 cm (4 x 2.6 in), Weight: 200g (7 oz)




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