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If you asked a traditional British potter in the last century what the most iconic form in UK ceramics is, the answer would most likely have been a jug. However, if you ask today, the answer is likely to be the teabowl, or Japanese chawan. This illustrated book looks at the context of the teabowl as it arose in chanoyu, or Japanese tea ceremony, through to its importation to the West, and how contemporary ceramicists have added aesthetic qualities and different techniques to the form. It asks the questions: What defines a teabowl and what is its role? What does the teabowl symbolize in Japan and in the West? Does the original aesthetic live on in Western teabowls, and has this been affected by the teabowl becoming a major collectors’ item? Using the work of historical Japanese potters as well as contemporary potters from around the world, the book explores the traditional factors that are at play in creating a teabowl aesthetic, such as wood-firing, raku, and kintsugi (traditional gold repair). It also teases out the influence of Western and contemporary techniques, such as salt-glazing and graphic decoration, and explores how the development of twentieth-century studio ceramics has influenced it.
An essential part of the teabowl aesthetic is tactile. In chanoyu handling the teabowl is part of a larger immersive experience, and even in the West, teabowls continue to be touched and handled at a time when other ceramic art is not. In this book the factual material about teabowls is presented through a phenomenological lens and includes descriptions of the tea ceremony, drawn from the author’s experience as a chanoyu student, a potter, and a writer.
Released by Bloomsbury Publishing on 24 August 2017.