A Raku Tea Bowl by Ichigen (1662 – 1722)
In the world of Japanese ceramics, Tamamizu-ware has an almost mythical standing. A branch of the main Raku line, at one time the two kilns held equal prominence, both being endorsed by the major tea schools of Kyoto and both being favored by the Imperial household. The first in the line was an illegitimate son of Kichizaemon Ichinyu (Yahē) who studied under his father and then left to open his own kiln in the village of Tamamizu (known today as Ide-cho). Though he is the first potter of the Tamamizu branch, he is usually referred to as Tamamizu VI (denoting his descendance from the Raku line). After establishing the kiln, Yahē took the artist’s name “Ichigen” and proceeded to fashion extremely high-quality tea bowls and other implements in the style of the earliest Raku potters.
A book containing secret techniques used by the kiln has been handed down to each successive generation since the age of Dō’nyū. Unlike the main Raku line—that to a certain extent allows each generation of potter to follow their own aesthetic sense—Tamamizu potters have stayed true to the original forms set out by Chōjirō, Dō’nyū, and Kōetsu. The line of Tamamizu potters continued up to early Meiji with the death of Tamamizu 14. However, a recent attempt was made to revive the kiln by a descendent (later dubbed Tamamizu 15) who spent his life collecting Tamamizu-ware from earlier potters, researching the techniques used by studying old manuscripts, and training with main-line Raku potters. Despite these efforts, there remain many historical gaps in our collective knowledge of the kiln and of the individual potters themselves.
A beautifully crafted and remarkable example of Edo period Raku pottery, this tea bowl is 4.5 inches in diameter (11.4 cm) and stands 3 inches tall (7.7 cm). As with the vast majority of Raku pieces from this time period (over 300 years ago), close inspection shows this piece has several small chips and cracks that were meticulously repaired using traditional methods quite some time ago. On the lid of the inside box are written the characters 黒楽茶碗 (Kuro Raku Chawan) “Black Raku Tea Bowl” and on the underside of the lid is a description of the piece and a certification by the 12th head tea master of Urasenke, Yūmyōsai (1852-1917). The outer box is a collector’s box signed by Kaisen Iguchi, renowned cha-jin and son of the 13th head tea master of Urasenke, Ennōsai. [additional information and examples of all signature and seals available upon request]
- ARTIST: Tamamizu Ichigen
- DIMENSIONS: H: 11.4cm W: 7.7cm
- ERA: Mid Edo - circa 1700
- PRICE: ¥2,500,000