Essays and Articles

Japanese Pottery - Shigaraki

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Possibly the best known of Japan’s six old kilns, Shigaraki stoneware pottery originated in the middle of the Kamakura period (early thirteenth century) with purely practical items produced to meet the demands of farmers and merchants including jars for tea storage known as ‘tsubo’, large plates, bowls and bottles as well as vessels used in indigo production

During the 15th and 16th centuries Shigaraki tea wares began to boom in popularity among the aristocratic classes thanks to the influence of tea masters such as Murata Juko, who hailed such ceramics as being in the spirit of ‘Wabi – Sabi’. The appreciation of rustic simplicity was more in line with the new form of ritual tea drinking which emphasized humility and intense awareness of ones surroundings.

The clay body of Shigaraki ceramics is distinguishable by its warm orange tone and lighter coloured grains of feldspar and quartz responsible for the distinctive rough texture of finished pieces

Glazes tend to be minimal and in earthy colours with classical pieces generally displaying natural ash glazes in tones of greenish yellow, gray and black or brown iron rich slip to create a uniform reddish brown.

In the modern day Shigaraki pottery continues to be produced both in the form of utilitarian items for everyday use as well as in one of a kind art pieces that bring a contemporary aesthetic to this ancient medium. Below are just a few examples of Japanese Shigaraki Pottery.