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This magnificent Shino-yaki chawan, done in a rediscovered Momoyama period style, came from the kilns of one of Japan’s most celebrated and talented potters.
Arakawa Toyozo (1894 - 1985), designated in 1955 as one of but a handful of National Living Treasures, is best known for rediscovering lost techniques of pottery from the Momoyama and early Edo periods. In 1930 he discovered shards at the site of the ruins of an ogama style kiln at Mutabora proving that that Shino and Oribe glazed work of the Momoyama and early Edo period in Japan had been manufactured in Mino rather than in the Seto area. Several years later he built a kiln to replicate these lost techniques and began producing works.
Arakawa’s interest in reviving ancient techniques likely began when, as a young man, he worked at the kiln of Rosanjin (1883 - 1959) in Kamakura. Rosanjin had based his pottery style and techniques on lost traditions from ancient China and Japan. For Arakawa, Shino-ware held a special appeal as it was the only form of white pottery that could truly be said to have originated in Japan. The feldspar glazing, perfect form, excellent firing, exceptional clay flavor, and brilliant fire colors were all characteristics of the lost art of Shino-ware that Arakawa spent a lifetime recreating and perfecting.
This piece is 5.1 inches in diameter (13cm) and stands 3.5 inches tall (9cm). It bears the artists signature on the base (noteworthy as Arakawa would not sign all pieces, only those that met his high standard) and comes with a signed tomobako and second outer box done in black lacquer. On the right-hand side of the lid of the tomobako are the characters 志野 Shino 茶碗 chawan. On the left-hand side are the characters 大萱 Ogaya (the name of the Momoyama kiln that Arakawa discovered) and 斗出庵 (his potter’s signature). The chawan also comes with a purple “shifuku,” or silk drawstring bag and a yellow cloth bearing his seal.