Historic Component: Japanese Teawares

Japanese Tea Bowl Abstract
By Momi Morgan
In the late sixteenth century, professional Japanese potters began the specialized production of tea ceramics.  The Japanese tea bowl soon became a distinctive technique in ceramics and developed a unique character through its distinctive attributes. These exquisite pieces are not to keep in your cupboard like a coffee mug; they are used exclusively for the Japanese tea ceremony. Some are accepted as so beautiful that the Japanese will patch up broken pieces and still consider them a cherished piece of art. While these bowls have countless variations such as yunomi, guinomi, chawan, senchawan, matchawan, and banchawan, they are generally made in two forms. These are either clean and refined or earthy and organic. The two may look and feel like completely different forms; however, they are both equally accepted as beautiful pieces of art.

Japanese Tea Ceremony
By Sarah Wood
         The Japanese tea ceremony is a ritualized cultural activity also called the Way of Tea.  The ceremony is heavily influenced by Zen Buddism (Japanese Tea Ceremony).  Participants seek to purify the mind and become one with nature (Kids Web Japan). 
         The tea ceremony’s roots originate in 16th century Japan(Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History).  It was a refined pursuit practiced only by the ruling class and the wealthy. The cultivation and use of tea originated in China and was developed in Japan into something all it’s own (Lee, Sherman Emery).  Each tea ceremony is a unique experience and takes years to master and perfect the specific choreography.  There are certain rules on etiquette guests abide by concerning gestures in drinking the tea as wells as in the use of the utensils (Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History).  Guests must bow when given their cup of tea called a chawan.  The chawan is received with the right hand and transferred to the left hand.  It is turned clockwise three times before drunk from and the place on the chawan where lips touched is wiped with the right hand.  A loud slurp when finished signifies to the host that the tea was enjoyed.  The chawan is turned counterclockwise when returned to the host (Japanese Tea Ceremony Procedure and History).
         The ceremony usually takes place in a space modeled after a hermits hut and is big enough for around 5 people.  This space is often surrounded by gardens and causes the guests to temporarily leave the world behind and focus on the interactions between the host, guests and tea utensils.  The ceramics involve are very important in this ceremony.  They are not only appreciated for their function but their artistic qualities as well (Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History).
         The first ceramics used for this ceremony originated from China.  The mid 16th century brought a shift in the pottery style.  Rustic more “natural” pottery from Korea and Japan was incorporated into the ceremony.  Pottery of this style is known as wabi.  This style celebrates the spontaneity and apparent artlessness of the pieces.   This ceramic style today is held at the same artistic level as the more refined Chinese works (Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History).


Tea bowl, Song dynasty, 960–1279; Jian ware
Fujian Province, China   stoneware with hare's-fur glaze (Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History)


Tanaka Chôjirô (?), (Japanese, 1516–?1592) Japan Rough clay covered with a dull black glaze; three spur marks of iron supports (Raku ware)         (Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History)

Clog-shaped tea bowl with design of plum blossoms and geometric patterns, Momoyama period   (1573–1615), early 17th century Japan
Stoneware with iron-black glaze (Mino ware, black Oribe type) (Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History)


"Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History." The Japanese Tea Ceremony. Metropolitan Museum      of Art, n.d. Web. 05 Mar. 2013.
"Japanese Tea Ceremony." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 03 Mar. 2013. Web. 05         Mar. 2013.
"Japanese Tea Ceremony Procedure and History." Japanese Tea Ceremony Procedure        and History. Houston Chinatown, 2005. Web. 07 Mar. 2013.
"Kids Web Japan." Tea Ceremony. Kids Web Japan, n.d. Web. 05 Mar. 2013.
Lee, Sherman Emery. Tea Taste in Japanese Art. New York: Arno Pr., 1976. Print.