Tea Bowl thumbnail 1
Tea Bowl thumbnail 2
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Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Ceramics, Room 143, The Timothy Sainsbury Gallery

Tea Bowl

1992 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Raku Kichizaemon XV (1941-) is the current head of the Kyoto-based Raku family whose pioneering of the 'yakinuki' (literally 'firing to the limit') technique dates back to 1983. This involves firing partially glazed Black Raku wares to a very high temperature in order to produce dramatic contrasts of colour and texture.

Kichizaemon XV succeeded to the family headship in 1981. Prior to this he had studied sculpture at Tokyo University of Arts and had spent two years in Italy at the Academia Belle Arte di Roma. The challenge to which he has risen, and for which he is much acclaimed, has been to channel his creative energies into the making of tea bowls, one of the more highly prescribed of vessel formats, by means of forming, glazing and firing methods transmitted largely unchanged from the late sixteenth century.

This particular bowl is a striking demonstration of how he has managed to combine a highly individualistic approach to the exploration of colour, texture and form with the making, by traditional means, of functional items that meet the requirements of the tea ceremony. The bowl was hand-built from clay originally bought in by his grand-father. The faceting of the sides extends onto the foot. Though not obvious to the eye, this and the continuation of the scratched and pin-pricked patterning would immediately be felt by someone holding the bowl to drink from. The patches of intense metallic black result from copper foil having been applied before glazing.

The glazes were applied by brush in the traditional manner, the green glaze being derived from wood ash and the black glaze from locally available Kamogawa stone. The streaks and flecks of red are the product of areas of the copper reducing in the presence of the ash glaze during firing.

In keeping with Raku family practice, the firing was carried out in a small charcoal-fuelled muffle kiln, temperatures of 1200 degrees centigrade or more being achieved through the use of bellows. Once the glazes had matured and begun to flow, the bowl was removed from the kiln with long-handled wrought-iron tongs and allowed to cool in the outside air. When making 'yakinuki' tea bowls towards the end of the 24-hour Black Raku firings that he carries out each April and November, the artist has an assistant - recently one of his two sons - work the bellows as fast as possible so that the temperature rises to 1250 degrees centigrade.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Hand-built Black Raku 'yakinuki' type high-fired earthenware with black and ash-green glazes over applied copper leaf
Brief Description
Tea bowl, Black Raku type high-fired earthenware with black and ash green glazes over applied copper leaf, Japanese, by Kichizaemon RAKU XV (1949-), 1992
Physical Description
Tea bowl with square base and upright sides, pin-pricking and scratching of base and lower sides, sculpting of exterior revealing granular texture of clay, irregular mouth rim, shallowly scooped out foot, over-all covering of interior with black and ash-green glazes, partial glaze coverage of exterior, to which have been applied thin sheets of copper that have turned an intense shiny black during firing.
Dimensions
  • Height: 10.3cm
  • Width: 13.3cm
  • Depth: 11.4cm
Style
Marks and Inscriptions
Raku (impressed inside foot)
Gallery Label
Raku tea bowl Kyoto, by Raku Kichizaemon XV (b.1949) High-fired earthenware with black iron and green ash glazes over copper leaf 1992 V&A FE.535-1992 (December 2014)
Summary
Raku Kichizaemon XV (1941-) is the current head of the Kyoto-based Raku family whose pioneering of the 'yakinuki' (literally 'firing to the limit') technique dates back to 1983. This involves firing partially glazed Black Raku wares to a very high temperature in order to produce dramatic contrasts of colour and texture.



Kichizaemon XV succeeded to the family headship in 1981. Prior to this he had studied sculpture at Tokyo University of Arts and had spent two years in Italy at the Academia Belle Arte di Roma. The challenge to which he has risen, and for which he is much acclaimed, has been to channel his creative energies into the making of tea bowls, one of the more highly prescribed of vessel formats, by means of forming, glazing and firing methods transmitted largely unchanged from the late sixteenth century.



This particular bowl is a striking demonstration of how he has managed to combine a highly individualistic approach to the exploration of colour, texture and form with the making, by traditional means, of functional items that meet the requirements of the tea ceremony. The bowl was hand-built from clay originally bought in by his grand-father. The faceting of the sides extends onto the foot. Though not obvious to the eye, this and the continuation of the scratched and pin-pricked patterning would immediately be felt by someone holding the bowl to drink from. The patches of intense metallic black result from copper foil having been applied before glazing.



The glazes were applied by brush in the traditional manner, the green glaze being derived from wood ash and the black glaze from locally available Kamogawa stone. The streaks and flecks of red are the product of areas of the copper reducing in the presence of the ash glaze during firing.



In keeping with Raku family practice, the firing was carried out in a small charcoal-fuelled muffle kiln, temperatures of 1200 degrees centigrade or more being achieved through the use of bellows. Once the glazes had matured and begun to flow, the bowl was removed from the kiln with long-handled wrought-iron tongs and allowed to cool in the outside air. When making 'yakinuki' tea bowls towards the end of the 24-hour Black Raku firings that he carries out each April and November, the artist has an assistant - recently one of his two sons - work the bellows as fast as possible so that the temperature rises to 1250 degrees centigrade.
Bibliographic Reference
Faulkner, Rupert. Japanese studio crafts : tradition and the avant-garde, London : Laurence King, 19959
Collection
Accession Number
FE.535-1992

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record createdNovember 27, 2008
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