Fine Japanese art and tea implements

A Tetsu-yu Henko Vase by Master Potter Kawai Kanjiro

A Tetsu-yu Henko Vase by Master Potter Kawai Kanjiro


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Directory: Vintage Arts: Regional Art: Asian: Japanese: Tea Articles: Pre 1960: Item # 1426915

Please refer to our stock # TRC210327 when inquiring.
Kyoto Ceramics and Fine Art
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Kamigamo District
Kyoto, Japan


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Conceived by 20th century master ceramicist Kawai Kanjiro—here an abstract depiction of flowers is used to adorn an exquisite “henko” shaped vase. The glaze used is known as “tetsu-yu” for its use of iron compounds to achieve this distinctive look. Though many pieces by Kanjiro remain today, this exact combination of style, shape, and glazing is uncommon, making this a must-have work for serious collectors.

Like so many greats throughout history, Kanjiro (1890 - 1966) was an artist who 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—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 prestigious 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.

This extraordinary piece is 6 inches at its widest point (15 cm) and stands nearly 8 iches tall (20 cm). In line with Kanjiro’s philosophy of earnestness, there is no artist’s seal on the vase itself. He shunned this practice as he felt it was an overindulgence of the artist’s ego. The vase comes with its original box inscribed with artist's signature and the Chinese characters “扁壺” (Henko — used to describe the shape) “壺” (Tsubo — vase/ jar) and “草花” (Kusabana — flowers).

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