Friday, November 25, 2011


I like Bizen pottery, probably as much as the next guy, but the one thing about it is at a certain level, much of the pottery looks about the same. Much of Bizen appears to be the same forms, same surfaces with very little to distinguish it from other potters and kilns. Enter a select group of Bizen potters who never fail to disappoint or impress with their exceptional knowledge of firing, wonderful forms and great and varied surfaces. One potter who fit into this group was Ningen Kokuho Fujiwara Yu (1932-2001). Though a lot of his work is on the very pragmatic end of Bizen-yaki, Fujiwara Yu is best known for his well fired tsubo and hanaire, some of which have withstood the extreme crucible of wood firing.

Illustrated is a truly exceptional hanaire by Fujiwara Yu. The surface is alive baring witness to the extremities of the firing; the ash is suspended in motion as if someone just hit the pause function on the remote. Obviously fired on its belly, the botamochi areas are surrounded by liquid tamadare runs, some ending in monumental drips of vitrous brown glass. All in all, a rather totemic form with a surface any collector or potter would be more than happy with.

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