Essays and Articles

Japanese Pottery - Tokoname

Monday, November 28, 2016

The final in our series of posts on Japan’s six ancient kilns, between the Heian and Muromachi periods Tokoname was one of the most concentrated areas for pottery production in all of Japan, with more than 1000 kilns known to have existed.

Widely distributed through trade to neighboring prefectures, Tokoname ceramics of various forms were already in daily use throughout Japan by the 13th century.

Historical pieces vary in colour from reddish browns to dark and pale greys depending on firing conditions and exact clay types, with the kilns of Tokoname producing a wide range of ceramics for every day life.

Complex decoration is for the most part minimal, however incised motifs of animals, plants or maker’s marks are occasionally seen, with the earliest pieces occasionally displaying patterns of grasses and lotus leaves.

Tokoname pottery production declined during the Momoyama period, gradually reducing further until the late Edo period when a resurgence of interest was sparked, leading to a massive revival of the local ceramics industry.

Classical pieces continued to be produced alongside newer designs catering to these ‘modern’ aesthetics and tastes with fine terracotta wares known as 'Shudei' being of particular interest among tea ceremony practitioners and enthusiasts alike.

This rediscovery of Tokoname stoneware and ceramics helped to allow the opening of new kilns and the sharing of new and old techniques between potters throughout the late 19th and 20th centuries, leading to countless exciting new forms that have endured and evolved right up to the modern day.

Contemporary Tokoname pottery vase with an incised calligraphic design


 


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