Monday, January 20, 2014


There is something a bit liberating, even rewarding about acquiring a pot that is shrouded in anonymity. To start with, the pot can be judged strictly for what it is. Through form, execution, decoration and the finish of the piece; the pot is only what stands in front of you. Simple or complex, the superfluous attributes of artist, value and relative importance are stripped away by something as simple as the lack of a mark or signature or the presence of its original attested box; in essence, a pot for pots sake and nothing more.
In a previous blog post, I mentioned one of my favorite pots is a pierced Oribe cylinder candlestick with a forged iron nail attached inside the bottom on to which a candle is stuck. The piercing is a repeated circle, square, triangle design and the pot came to me and the seller as an anonymous pot. The candlestick, not large in scale or in any way intent on altering the field of ceramics, is one of the most honest, purposeful and enjoyable  pots that I own. I am not saying its anonymity is necessarily responsible for how I perceive it, but it is the unknown nature of the origins of the piece that leads to endless conversations and continuous conjecture. In an odd way, this adds to my enjoyment of the piece and it is exactly the constant conjecture that keeps the piece fresh.
Illustrated is a chawan who's identification has eluded me up until this point in time. Thrown out of a reddish-brown clay and quickly faceted, once leather hard, the piece was dipped in a thin white slip. Later glazed in a slightly aqua toned ash clear glaze there are thick green drips which defy gravity about the lip. Once fired the teabowl was enameled in red and green. The kodai is crisply cut and a square seal is present within, though covered over in white slip. This piece has remained anonymous and the enameling could lead one to think Okinawan in origin, I have my suspicions which lead me to one of several Mashiko potters. Who knows, I may stumble on to a similar piece and figure out who made this or someone else may recognize the piece and clue me in. However it plays out, it is a nice bowl in hand and the anonymity just keeps the bowl that much more intriguing.

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