Tea bowl

DATE: 19th century (made)
PLACE: Japan (made)
MATERIALS AND TECHNIQUES: Earthenware with a crackled glaze, painted in overglaze enamels

A chawan (tea bowl) is a handleless vessel used to prepare and drink tea, which originated in China. Tea bowls first appeared in Japan between the 12th and 14th centuries, when they were brought back by Japanese monks who had travelled to China to study Zen Buddhism. Gradually, these Chinese tea bowls were replaced by rustic, unglazed ceramic vessels from Korea and Japan, which were used to prepare powdered green tea during the Japanese tea ceremony. These teabowls varied greatly in design as they were made in different regions, kilns, and from various types of clay. This Edo Period example is characterised as Kyō-yaki or ‘Kyoto ware’, a type of Japanese ceramic traditionally fired in Kyoto.