Conceived by 20th century master ceramicist Kawai Kanjiro (1890 - 1966), the combination of “shinsa” (cinnabar glazing) and “tsutsu-gaki kamon” (raised-relief slip-trailing floral design) used in the creation of this work is one of his most recognizable motifs.
Like so many great artists throughout history, Kanjiro refused to confine himself to one genre. A poet, philosopher, sculptor, as well as a gifted potter, he strove to preserve the simple austerity of Japanese folk-art that he felt was being encroached on by industrial methods of production taking hold at the time.
Today, his works are highly sought after not only for their sheer aesthetic brilliance, but also due to the fact that he was a key figure in what many view as the most important studio pottery movement of the 20th century known as “Mingei,” a folk-art movement that sought to praise the virtues of simplicity, functionality, and reverence for the hand-made wares of common craftsmen. Kanjiro also bears the distinction of being the only person to have ever declined the honorific title of National Living Treasure—though it was offered to him. His works represent a deep philosophy of earnestness coupled with simple grace and harmony with nature.
The work featured here has several unmistakable elements which Kanjiro was known for. First, is the use of the red cinnabar glaze known as “shinsa” in Japanese). Kanjiro started out his career by mastering the use of chemical pigmentations but later abandoned these methods and pushed forward using only natural compounds and techniques to bring out more vibrant and living colors, shinsa being one of the most noted (the mineral this glaze is derived from is otherwise known as “the stone of the wise men.” The raised floral design is also one of Kanjiro’s trademark techniques that can be seen in different iterations throughout the evolution of his work.
This extraordinary piece from the late 1950’s is 5.5 inches in diameter (14 cm) and stands 3.5 inches tall (8.9 cm). In line with Kanjiro’s philosophy of earnestness there is no artist’s seal on the bowl itself, due to the fact that Kanjiro shunned this practice—he felt it was an overindulgence of the artist’s ego. The tea bowl comes with a certification box from the Kawai Kanjiro Museum (Kinenkan) signed by his daughter, Kyoha. The value of this piece is attested to by the extensive gold repairs that were recently applied by a master craftsman. **International shipping and insurance included in the price.