An Iga-yaki Vase by Nagatani Yasuhiro

Artist:Nagatani YasuhiroEra:ContemporaryPrice:$1,

A beautifully crafted vase from a studio potter in the hills of Iga, a few hours drive east of Kyoto. Iga-ware has quite a long history—by some accounts dating back to the 7th and 8th century—with the major kilns being established some time around the end of the 16th century. Similar in many ways to Shigaraki pottery, the glaze is the result of kiln ash being vitrified and melted on to the surface of the clay body at extremely high temperatures during firing, which can last many days. To add a bit of flair and contrast to the natural glaze, various compounds are dribbled and pooled across the surface of the clay vessels to add blueish-green, yellowish, and coral colored highlights.

The potter who created this vase, Nagatani Tasuhiro VIII, is not just the head of the kiln, but runs the family business of producing stoneware “donabe”—large decorative covered pots used in Japanese cooking for making communal one-pot meals. In recent years their functional bowls, pots, and dishes have received a lot of attention and become popular not just across Japan but abroad as well. Nagatani credits the popularity of his family’s pieces with the exceptionally good clay the region produces that he says dates back over 4 million years. For many generations now the Nagatani’s have been working with this clay and maintaining tradition techniques—each piece the result of several weeks of crafting.

In excellent condition this piece is 6.7 inches in diameter at its widest point (17 cm), and stands 10.6 inches tall (27 cm). It comes with a recently commissioned box signed by the artist and a protective cloth (furoshiki).