Tea bowl

DATE: 16-17th century (made)
PLACE: Korea (made)
MATERIALS AND TECHNIQUES: Stoneware with white glaze

Tea masters in Japan perfected the meticulous ceremony of preparing and serving tea during the course of the 15th and 16th century. Strongly influenced by Buddhist thought, tea drinking was a means to mindfulness and enlightenment, and the intimate setting of the tea room was a space within which participants could temporarily withdraw from the outside world. Each tea utensil played an important role, and tea bowls were often named by their creators and owners to reflect their value.

This tea bowl was made in Korea between the 16th and 17th century and imported to Japan. The grand tea master Sen no Rikyu is generally credited to have been the first to use Korean bowls for tea in the mid 16th century. Thereafter, Korai-mono (wares imported from Korea) became appreciated amongst practitioners of the Wabicha tea ceremony for their rustic simplicity. This particular shape appears to be specific to Japanese tea bowls and was likely made to order. The bowl is covered in a pale blue, crackled glaze with blushes of pink, the colour of which inspired its original owner to name it ‘Akebono’ (frosty dawn). The ink inscription on the tamabako (wood box) indicates that the bowl was at one time owned by Mujin Sosa (1901-1979), the 13th master of the Omote Senke School of Tea.