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A fine ceramic box dating from the 1940s by pre-eminent 20th century ceramicist Kawai Kanjiro enclosed in a kiri-box annotated by Kawai Koha of the Kawai Kanjiro Kinenkan Museum. It is covered in a pale green glaze with his unmistakable swirling patterns on the lid and sides. The vessel is (roughly) 5.5 x 7 x 5.5 cm (2-1/4 x 3 x 2-1/4 inches).
No ceramic artist of the Showa approached Kanjiro Kawai (1890-1966) for creativity and artisanship. Kanjiro was a true artist by nature, and together with Hamada Shoji, set a pattern of study for modern potters. After graduating the Tokyo School of Industrial Design, he came to study in Kyoto, eventually establishing his own kiln on the Gojo-no-Saka (It remains standing today and is a must see for anyone visiting Kyoto). Together with compatriots Hamada Shoji and Bernard Leach (with whom he traveled throughout Asia) established the modern Mingei movement in ceramics, the most influential ceramics movement in the 20th century. His research on glazes (of which he developed thousands over a lifetime of work) remains influential as well. Refusing to be limited to ceramics, Kanjiro also worked in bronze, wood and paint. An interesting final note on this unusual artist, when offered the title of Living National Treasure, an honor bestowed on very few, he declined.