Monday, May 7, 2012


Illustrated is a mizusashi based on a "bucket" or "pail" archetype that finds their origins in Shigaraki in the 17th and 18th century. Over 80% of the surface is covered in ash, part in an opaque ash and the rest in a sheer coat of glass with the lid galley having a ring of thick, rich green bidoro running around the entire pot. The lid, is carved out of  blond cypress by the potter to finish off the piece and create a wonderful contrast between pot and lid.  To my eye, there is something very inviting about the simplicity of the piece and the rhythm captured in the clay.

Made by veteran potter Kon Chiharu (b. 1951), this is one of those quiet Shigaraki pots that is both  classic and timeless. Kon lives, works and teaches in Nagaoka City, Niigata Prefecture. He studied under the legendary Tsuji Seimei(1927-2008). Besides leaving behind a diverse and great body of work, Tsuji Seimei made Shigaraki pottery outside of the traditional center of that style of pottery, rather he lived and worked in Tokyo. Tsuji is one of the pioneers that made it quite acceptable to work within a tradition without the geographical ties seen previously.  After finishing his apprenticeship, Kon moved back to Niigata where he built his studio and anagama with the intention of pursuing the Shigaraki tradition in what is typically known as "snow-country". Besides making Shigaraki pottery, Kon also makes a wide variety of glazed wares of which I am particularly fond of his Oribe and Kohiki works. As I have pointed out in another post, though he doesn't work in Shigaraki proper, his works are the only evidence you need to see, Kon Chiharu is a modern day Shigaraki potter.

(Illustration used with the permission of a private collector)

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