Essays and Articles

Japanese ceramics - Shino pottery

Monday, August 28, 2017

Shino ware is a glazed Japanese pottery variety originally produced in Mino province, present day Gifu prefecture. In its original form, it emerged during the Momoyama period in the late 16th century and continued to be produced into the early Edo period before largely falling out of use in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. 

Contemporary Japanese Shino pottery studio vase by Tsukamoto Haruhiko (b. 1959)


Easily identifiable by their thick translucent whitish glazes, pitted or crackled surface textures and oftentimes irregular or deliberately misshapen forms, Shino ware ceramics quickly became a firm favourite among tea ceremony enthusiasts, with many of the earliest examples of Shino pottery consisting of tea bowls, mizusashi (water pot), kogo (incense container) and various other implements related to tea or incense appreciation.

Left: Japanese Shino pottery tea bowl                                      Right: Japanese Shino pottery tea bowl in a cone shape                                                          

Aside from the most commonly seen whitish glazed Shino, there is also a reddish toned variety and a grey type, produced by coating the piece in a watery iron slip before covering it with a feldspar glaze.




Set of five Japanese 'Shino' pottery plates


Despite its initial popularity, the vogue for early Shino wares waned, ultimately being replaced by similarly glazed and often slightly more decorative Oribe style ceramics.
Fortunately however, its sculptural aesthetic and timeless appeal finally won out, with the style re-emerging in the late 19th and 20th centuries during the Meiji, Taisho and Showa periods.

Today there are many Japanese artists and studios specialising in Shino style ceramics, with their output ranging all the way from small trinkets and affordable utilitarian items up to one off sculptural vessels and museum worthy art pieces.

As with most other Japanese ceramic varieties, early Shino examples are highly valued by major collectors and museums and often attract prices in the many thousands of dollars.
For the savvy collector or ceramics enthusiast however, pieces by contemporary artisans can represent a much more reasonable investment.

Kazari + Ziguzagu stocks a large range of Shino pottery pieces, from tableware including bowls, dishes, cups and plates to vases for ikebana all the way up to one off artist pieces.