From our collection of Japanese Chawan with Christian Cross design: highly distorted shoe shaped (kutsugata) tea bowl with a rounded brim, made of light, coarse, unrefined Mino clay. The expertly thrown body was trimmed with a potter's knife in its lower part around the foot ring.
In the style of Seto kuro bowls this Chawan was covered with a brown glaze. On one side the sign of a Christian (Maltese) cross was left unglazed and was covered with a transparent ash glaze. On the other side is a typical Christian cross. The combination of a Christian and a Maltese Cross makes this bowl even more meaningful. It is a real cultural and historical treasure.
The foot ring is typical for the kuro Oribe bowls produced around 1610 at the Motoyashikiki and other kilns.
The bowl has a beautiful shape and is well balanced.
Tea bowls and other tea related items with decoration of a Christian cross are known, BUT ARE VERY VERY RARE - chiefly for the reason that Christian religion became prohibited in the early Edo Period (1614 - the year in which Oribe pupil Takayama Ukon was expelled from Japan) and the prohibition was rigorously enforced (especially after the Shimbara rebellion in 1637) with death penalty - CONSEQUENTLY ALL EXISTING PEACES WERE DESTROYED.
Considering this political environment, the bowl was surely manufactured before 1614.
Beside our chawan there is another known tea bowl with cross design, which is exhibited in the Nanban Bunkakan Museum in Osaka, please refer to picture 10.
For further information please read the book 'Turning Point - Oribe and the Arts of Sixteenth-Century Japan', The Metropolitan Museum of Arts New York, Yale University Press New Haven and London.
Perfect condition. The Chawan comes together with a good wooden box.
Size: 8 cm height x 14,1 cm in diameter.