This tea bowl is in the Tamba style: one of the six ancient styles of Japanese pottery. Tamba pottery has been made for over eight hundred years. This type of pottery gets its glassy look not from a glaze, but from the smoke and ash inside the kiln. Today, it is only made at one kiln in Tachikui, Hyogo prefecture, and it is on Japan’s list of intangible cultural heritage. This style of pottery has not remained the same for eight hundred years, however. Momoyama era pottery, for instance was fired inside of cave kilns, where mineral deposits would leave a green “glaze.” The aesthetic of the bowl is that of Wabi-sabi, which is one of the more prominent ideas of Japanese aesthetics. Wabi-sabi is the underlying principle of acceptance toward transience and imperfection. Wabi-sabi is rooted in Buddhism and as an aesthetic values asymmetry, irregularity, and simplicity. The slightly oval shape of this piece, as well as the uneven, drippy, speckled glaze are some of the markers of its Wabi-sabi aesthetic.
-Constantine Botimer, Class of 2019