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  • Place of origin:

    Mashiko (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1931 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Hamada, Shoji, born 1894 - died 1978 (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Stoneware, thrown, trimmed and carved, with off-white glaze

  • Credit Line:

    Given by the Contemporary Art Society

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Ceramics, Room 145, case 53

Hamada Shoji (1894-1978) was one of the leading potters of the Japanese Mingei (Folk Craft) movement. He was closely associated both with Yanagi Soetsu (1889-1961), the philosopher-critic on whose theories the movement was founded, and the pioneer English studio potter Bernard Leach (1887-1979), whom he helped establish the Leach Pottery in St Ives, Cornwall, during the early 1920s.

The Mingei movement developed in early twentieth-century Japan as a social and aesthetic crusade. It held ideas in common with the English Arts and Crafts theorists John Ruskin and William Morris about the value of hand-work and the negative effects of industrialisation and mass production. It actively sought to save and revive Japanese folk-craft traditions, which were becoming sidelined due to the forces of modernisation and urbanisation, and was part of a broader cultural movment in which Japan sought to articulate and assert a sense of national identity in the face of burgeoning westernisation.

Like other members of the Mingei movement, Hamada was a great admirer of Korean ceramics of the Choson period (1392-1910). This is apparent in the potting of this bottle, notably the carved faceting of its sides. Furthermore, although the off-white glaze was made from materials local to Mashiko, the pottery-making centre to the north-east of Tokyo where Hamada lived and worked from 1924 onwards, it has a serene and subdued quality reminiscent of Korean punchong wares, whose distinctive colouration was the result of the application of clear glaze over a slip-covered stoneware body.

As well as looking to Korean models for inspiration, Hamada also looked to China, the shape of the this bottle's mouth being derived from Chinese Song-dynasty originals. Hamada's remarkable capacity to look, absorb and then create from within is what made him the truly outstanding potter that he was. As he once said, 'Just to give oneself up to folk art will never do. One must chew and eat up mingei - eat it, consume it, put it in your belly; to put it in your system and digest it is what is required in this day and age. We are to assimilate it and do something of our own with this food.'

Physical description

Tall bottle with roughly carved, evenly faceted exterior, wide-rimmed mouth, off-white glaze covering all but very bottom of footring

Place of Origin

Mashiko (made)


ca. 1931 (made)


Hamada, Shoji, born 1894 - died 1978 (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Stoneware, thrown, trimmed and carved, with off-white glaze


Height: 32.7 cm, Diameter: 15.7 cm

Descriptive line

Bottle, stoneware with faceted sides, off-white glaze, Japan, Mashiko, by Hamada Shoji, circa 1931

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

'Retrospective Exhibition of Shoji Hamada', National Museum of modern art (Tokyo, 1977)
Liefkes, Reino and Hilary Young (eds.) Masterpieces of World Ceramics in the Victoria and Albert Museum. London: V&A Publishing, 2008, pp. 130-131.

Labels and date

Stoneware bottle
Japan, Mashiko
About 1931

Hamada Shoji was a leading artist of the Japanese folk craft movement. He was closely associated with its founder, Yanagi Soetsu, and the pioneer English studio potter, Bernard Leach, with whom he worked in the 1920s. Like other members of the movement, he was an admirer of Korean ceramics. This is evident in the bottle’s faceting and off-white glaze.
Made by Hamada Shoji (1894–1978)

Stoneware, with off-white glaze

Museum no. Circ.348-1939
Given by the Contemporary Art Society [September 2009]

Production Note

Artist: Hamada Shoji (1894-1978)
Biographical reference: L.P. Roberts, 'Dictionary of Japanese Artists' (New York/Tokyo, 1976), p.38: Gisela Jahn and Anette Petersen-Brandhorst, 'Erde und Feuer', Deutsches Museum (Munich, 1984), pp.198 - 199




Glazed; Thrown; Carved


Stoneware; Studio Pottery; Ceramics


East Asia Collection

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