Monday, January 31, 2011


With all things, there is much about Mashiko pottery that I like and dislike. One of the things I like best about a lot of Mashiko-yaki is the effort to produce objects of utility and function. When I think of Mashiko, naturally I think about Hamada Shoji and then to his best know pupil Ningen Kokuho; Shimaoka Tatsuzo (1919-2007). I have handled a large number of Shimaoka’s pots and have always been pleased with their feel and grasp of utility. Though all of his works are marked (after the death of Shoji Hamada), many of the works with his mark were made by apprentices. Much of his pottery that comes from his kiln has that “people’s art” (mingei) feel to it and as such it embraces function and every day use whether it is made by him or any number of his students.

The illustrated piece is a bit different than the every day Shimaoka pottery. This Yohen-Jomon Zogan mizusashi is intended as a piece of ritual and due to its choice spot in the wood fired kiln (nobori-gama) it has exceeded the everyday object. Fitted with a custom made roiro lacquer lid, this mizusashi shows off the inlaid rope design Shimaoka is so well known for along with natural wood ash cascading down the front of the pot and encircling the lip. It is the subtle choices of form and firing that transforms this Shimaoka pot from a piece for daily use to a master work intended for the ritual of tea (chanoyu). It would seem, these choices are what separate student from master.