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Classic Stoneware of Japan: Shino and Oribe [Hardcover]

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Item description for Classic Stoneware of Japan: Shino and Oribe by Takeshi Murayama...

Though Japan today has become one of the world's most industrialized, mechanized, and computerized nations, it still boasts one of the world's richest and most fascinating ceramic traditions.
Two of the country's most remarkable styles of pottery are Shino and Oribe, both originating in ancient Mino Province (modern-day Gifu Prefecture) from the time of Japan's artistic "renaissance" in the late sixteenth century.
Oribe ware is one of the most startling and innovative expressions not only of this period but of all Japanese pottery. In a departure from the more refined tea ceremony utensils that represent the meditative aspect of the ceremony, Oribe ware has a more earthy feel, with its layering of naturally occurring colors: a piece might be made of red and white clay, with green glaze over the white portion, and line decorations done in iron over a coat of white slip on the red part. This ware is named for Furuta Oribe, who in his time was the undisputed master of the tea ceremony and who, it is said, commissioned certain kilns to make these pots after his own designs.
Likewise, the tea ceremony ware known as Shino is widely considered to have its own unparalleled kind of beauty. With its thick, white, feldspathic glaze and stylized but seemingly spontaneous decoration in iron underglaze, it has an unmistakable sense of softness and naturalness.
Both Shino and Oribe are still being made today, but in many cases it is the older examples that are most striking. Classic Stoneware of Japan brings together these early great pieces with important newer work, in 150 color photographs, and outlines each ware in informative essays - written by two noted authorities - on each tradition's history and techniques.
Classic Stoneware of Japan offers a comprehensive visual survey and a basic understanding of these traditions' glazes, processes, shapes and decoration. The reader comes away with a clear idea of the essence of these wares and an ability to instantly recognize either. It will be invaluable for anyone interested in pottery, design or art.
Classic Stoneware of Japan is the combined edition of two earlier volumes, Shino and Oribe, originally published independently in the series Famous Ceramics of Japan. This new, combined edition is a fascinating guide to these enduring and vital art forms.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   128
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 10.6" Width: 7.84" Height: 0.59"
Weight:   1.38 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Nov 8, 2002
Publisher   Kodansha International
ISBN  4770028970  
ISBN13  9784770028976  

Availability  0 units.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Arts & Photography > Art > Art History > Regional > Asian
2Books > Subjects > Arts & Photography > Art > Other Media > Ceramics
3Books > Subjects > History > Asia > Japan
4Books > Subjects > Home & Garden > Antiques & Collectibles > General
5Books > Subjects > Home & Garden > Antiques & Collectibles > Reference
6Books > Subjects > Reference > General

Reviews - What do customers think about Classic Stoneware of Japan: Shino and Oribe?

Classic book, classic subject  Apr 16, 2003
Say "stoneware" to anyone fond of traditional Japanese culture and most will respond "raku." Indeed, those loosely-shapen dark wonders of the low-fire kiln are the supercondensed span of an entire culture in an object you can hold. Yet in an almost artless preoccupation with doing just the opposite, two traditions expressing the same qualities of the tea ceremony using entirely materials and effect came into existence and rapidly became popular: Shino and Oribe ware. Both originated during Japan's artistic renaissance of the late sixteenth century (which interestingly was coterminus with the Europeam Renaissance beyond Italy, and just as tumultuous).

The tea ceremony's origins came in a gentler time, the Muromachi. It was as if the mix of vigor and experience hung in the air like a dust mote after a peaceful zephyr, the same way that war is in the air when come the winds of change. Though several theories claim to be the actual inspiration, the era is more definite. A 1932 chronicle relates, "In the first month of 1574, Kagemitsu, third son of Kageharu of the thirteenth generation after the first Seto potter Kato Kagemasa, moved to Akatsu. By virtue of a tea jar that he presented to Lord Oda Nobunaga, the latter formally recognized him as a retainer. Kakemitsu subsequently left Seto and moved to Kujiri, in Mino, in 1583. There . . . he continued working as a potter."

To diehard raku buffs, Shino ware must have seemed a bit overadorned, fussy perhaps. There are geometrics, abstracts, and representations of familiar fare such as birds, grasses, plus the occasional poem such as:

The inner essence
Of the fence of deutzia flowers
In a mountain village:
The feeling of treading a road
Covered with freshly fallen snow.

The authors convey all this with a mix of the poet and the historian. Here is an extended passage that carries the aroma of the whole text:

"To me [Shino ware's] charm lies in the feel of its surface and the mellow luster that accords so well with that surface. And there is the straightforward beauty of the pictures decorating Shino ware. The overall effect is intoxicating.
"Shino pictures are drawn with lively lines depicting the everyday scenery surrounding the potters-the bridges over the streams at Kuguri, a cypress fence and dew-covered path leading to its brushwood gate, a grove of trees in flower, the trees and grasses just outside the window, even the mountain road they traveled day after day.
"Such was the aesthetic of the Momoyama period in general. But the single tree, the few blades of grass these artists sketched are somehow pleasing because the designs pulse with life, the brushwork is clean and bold.
"The white of Shino can be compared to the first snow of the season, or to the last traces of the winter snow, which the warm spring winds are erasing as the bush warbler's first song rings out. Shino's white surface is soft like a mother's breast; it brings back memories of childhood.

"Shino white is tidiness itself. And on that white the potters painted designs with an iron glaze made of oni-ita, a red clay rich in iron and manganese and abundant in the Seto region. The effect of flame in the kiln added distinctive fire marks. Shino is an elusive ware, capable of infinite transformations.
"The Shino potters thickly applied their glaze, which they made by carefully grinding feldspar and refining it in water. To this they added their own secret proportion of ash. Then, after offering sake and prayers to the gods of the kiln, and ritually scattering salt to purify the area, they entrusted their pieces to the fire."

In the depths of the heart
From which pottery springs
Flows a crystal clear stream
Reflecting nearby mountains.
-- Rosanjin Kitaoji

The above is but the glaze. To get the pot you must get the book. Be sure to look at pictures 2 and 3 on page 54: This seemingly unassuming Shino teabowl is considered the finest teabowl in existence.

Alas, or perhaps huzzah, styles last not long. The next innovation in Japanese teaware can be directly traced to a single man, Furuta Oribe, and as changes in teacups go, his was a doozy.

Japan in Oribe's time was a chessboard of warlords incessantly raiding each other for fun and profit. Oribe, among other things, also was a distinguished general. His tastes ran to the "robust, generous, vigorous, and distorted in shape." He introduce these qualities to the entire tea ceremony-most notably by making it part of a dinner event with a large number of others, all lubricated as much by saké as by tea. Hence Oribe commissioned not only tea ware but serving and dining dishes, saké ware, unusual geometrics, and heavy, dripping glazes the tea ceremony's predecessors would have deemed ghastly. This was not very Zen. On the other hand, Oribe's shaking up the establishment led directly to a great flowering of ceramics. Eventually more subtle tastes tamed down the founder's style-a process that can be seen vividly in the many illustrations of Oribe ware-and Oribe's great-great-great grandchildren's great grandchildren still being made today.

Alas, this review is all too brief. To sum the book in PR blurb terms, "Classic Stoneware of Japan: Shino and Oribe" is a comprehensive visual survey and text explication of the two traditions' glazes, processes, shapes, and decoration. You come away with a clear idea of the essence of these wares and with half an eye you can come to expertly recognize either. The detail is exhaustive given its scant 42 pages of text. Potters will celebrate it. Everyone else will learn from it. No one is likely to forget it.


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