Monday, November 17, 2008

A Touch of Japan

As some of you may know my last Semester in School I took a beginning ceramics class as one of my electives. This was a direct result of having taken a Japanese cultural history class the preceding semester where I had become fascinated by the art and history of Japan. One of the things that I got hooked on was the tea ceremony and the emergence of the tea bowl as art, but also a part of culture. I will not go into the details of how some individuals made a living out of the tea ceremony, but I will say that it is fascinating that a people could turn something as simple as tea into a politically powerful tool to promote individuals and even feudal clans. The following picture was taken at the Freer Gallery in Washington D.C., it is a tea bowl made in the 17th - 18th century.

This is a tea bowl that I made in my Ceramics Class, I used a scalloped edge to try and make it look like a Chrysanthemum. The chrysanthemum was the symbol of the royal family and is used frequently in Japanese art to indicate power or authority.

To the left is a set of three bowls that I made, the one on the left is a side view of the above bowl. The theme that I was going for was that of a snow capped mountain, you can be the judge if I was successful or not. All of these bowls were hand made to give them a more rustic look that is more in line with the simplicity of the tea ceremony.

I do not consider myself a potter, but I did find joy in making something useful out of a lump of clay. Making pottery was fun and a much needed avenue where I could blow off some steam while I was trying to put my senior paper together. To all those who are reading I will pass on the major theme that I discovered while studying and trying to copy the are of the Japanese tea bowl. I have found that sometimes a simple and rustic bowl can contain all the beauty and complexity of a masters work of art.

1 comment:

Mimi Nowland said...

It was a good creative outlet for you and I got some bowls out of the class. Your family has some serious creativity! I hope our kids get some of that.