This squat bowl is not smooth but has subtle irregularities in texture and shape, intentionally highlighted by the brilliant red glaze.
Since the late sixteenth century, red has competed with black as a favored color for teabowls. Red bowls come in an astonishingly wide range of colors, from a rusty orange to a pale pink. They are made with a clear glaze over red slip (thin, watery clay). Although this bowl bears a seal reading “raku,” here it probably indicates the style rather than the maker of the bowl. Similarities to pottery made in western Japan suggest that this bowl may come from a workshop in the Hagi or Karatsu area. The bowl demonstrates the wide appeal of the Raku technique to tea practitioners of late Edo-period Japan.
In this painting, a mischievous demon is depicted in priest’s garb begging for alms.
This painting is an example of Otsu-e, a type of folk painting originating not far from Kyoto in the present-day Shiga Prefecture towns of Otsu, Oiwake, and Otani. Otsu-e were produced with cheap local materials and stencils were used to facilitate mass production, making them affordable even to the lower classes.
By the latter half of the seventeenth century, Otsu-e became more secular. This humorous painting among other Otsu-e had strong popular appeal, and made their way into the art and literature of famous Edo period figures. Otsu-e with iconography associated with beneficial powers would later function as amulets.
This rustic looking bowl has a circular base from which the rounded shape of the bowl extends. The clear glaze reveals the brown and black tones of the materials.
During the rise of wabi aesthetics in Momoyama period (1583-1615), Japanese tea masters discovered the rustic earthenware rice bowls that were in widespread use among Korean peasant farmers. These simple bowls fit perfectly the wabi aesthetic taste for rusticity and simplicity. When many Japanese warlords, who were fervent tea practitioners themselves, went to Korea with the invasion attempts of Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1537-1598) in the 1590s, many ido chawan or “well-side tea bowls” were carried home and treasured as family heirlooms. Korean potters were also relocated to Japan as part of the spoils of war, and their descendants at the Hagi clan kilns in western Japan continued to make a ware that recalls the ido type.