Glazed stoneware. This tea bowl features intricate design work rarely seen in the bulk of Kanjirō’s pieces—likely indicating his early period. The medallion-like floral patterns on the outside and lining the inside of the bowl are formed using a slip inlay technique characteristic of Mishima yaki. The Mishima technique, borrowed from 10th-14th century Korean celadon pottery, allows for the extremely fine and intricate design work displayed here. This tea bowl comes with a signed and sealed wooden tomobako.
Kanjirō was best known as a potter and leading figures in the movement to revive the Japanese folk art tradition known as Mingei. Many are unaware, however, that he was also an accomplished artist, calligrapher, sculptor, writer and philosopher. Central to his philosophical views was the idea of preserving austere values derived from honest hard work. Through his art and writings, he sought to stem the tide of urbanization and industrialization that he felt was stripping Japan of its authenticity and national identity. The evolution of his philosophical ideals is reflected in the evolution of his pottery—moving towards a preference for natural forms and glazes, a humble yet refined simplicity, and an unmistakable flair that could not be reproduced through modern industrial techniques.