Wednesday, July 24, 2013


At first glance this small ko-tsubo or uzukumaru form may come from the waning days of Meiji period, the 1920s perhaps or the 50s, 70's or present day, but to those familiar with the work, this classical jar is the epitome of the 1950's, crafted in the hands of Kitaoji Rosanjin (1883-1959). Owing its creation to the prototypical ko-tsubo of centuries before and deeply rooted in the Momoyama era, this jar gives hints to its age in some sense defining the period of pottery making in Japan just post-war until the 1960s. Though Rosanjin was obviously inspired by earlier Oribe works, this playful pot, is all about the 20th century, filled with all of the earmarks that point to more modern times. Loosely based on the uzukumaru form best known among Shigaraki wares, this form foregoes some of the absolute classical utility to exist as much as an object of beauty as it does a functional piece. Though Rosanjin's pottery is based in utility, he was as equally involved in the aesthetics and for him, that was best fulfilled when the pot was in use. This may seem to be a contradiction in his investment in the beauty of the object, but the designed completion of what he made was when it was covered or filled with food or in use for a flower arrangement or a sparse branch. In utility, comes the culmination of the form.

Despite what one may have heard or read about Rosanjin, there is no conceit or ego in this pot, rather it portrays a spring like exuberance and playfulness associated with the Oribe of old. From the rich, thick band of deep green glaze at the mouth, to the wispy cross hatched grasses swaying in a cool spring breeze, the pot is brought to life filled with emotion and expectation. I find that works like this, has a rather lyrical, even poetic side to them, a fine balance between what is seen and what is felt. The pot has a certain nobility to its character that is balanced by the nature of the decoration, though not a large pot, as with most Rosanjin works, it has more than enough energy and conversation to last a lifetime. I would think this is exactly what Furuta Shigenari (Oribe) would have had in mind.

"All pottery is a copy. The only question is what the copy is aiming for; what element of the original it is seeking to emulate."  Kitaoji Rosanjin