Wednesday, March 2, 2016


Illustrated is a large Tokoname shudei hibachi ("fire-bowl") by Yamada Tozan I (1878-1940). The pot has a burnished surface and a lengthy inscription carved into it with a long date and signature to conclude the text, after the signature is an annotation, SAKU-TO, self carved. Tozan I was succeeded by his son Yamada Tozan II (1907-1998) and in turn he by his son Tozan III (current). Shudei ware was developed early in the Edo period in Tokoname (Aichi prefecture) and is known for its fine grained, iron rich clay that fires to a variety of red tones including bright red vermillion. The clay is burnished to achieve these fine red surfaces and then once burnished the decoration is carved through the tightly packed surface creating a two-tone effect. The Tokoname potters specialized in carved kyusu teapots/cups, teaware (sencha and matcha) and censors(koro) and braziers among other items with hand carved (tosaku) floral and dragon decorations as well as extensive and idiosyncratic texts, prayers (sutra), travelogues, narratives, etc. This particular hibachi dates from the late 1920s and is a typical piece for Tozan I as well as the Tokoname style in general and since this pot has been in the US since just after WWII, I am curious what it has been used for during its stay State side?
Here is a short video of Tokoname potter, Yamada Tozan III that I found on YouTube: