pottery

Carnation Fixation…Iznik Pottery

Iznik carnations from MIA

Carnation: I have long lov’d you and you have not known it.
-Mary Wortley Montagu, on Turkish language of flower customs, 1718

For the Victorians, carnations symbolized fascination and romantic love, although certain colors could connote rejection. What you may not know is that the roots of Western language of flowers stems from the writings of an English woman, Mary Wortley Montagu, who accompanied her husband on his ambassadorship to Istanbul in the early 18th century. Through her access to the women in the harems she discovered that “there is no colour, no flower, no weed, no fruit, herb, pebble or feather that has not a verse belonging to it; and you may quarrel, reproach or send letters of passion, friendship or civility, or even of news, without ever inking your fingers.” In addition, during the Ottoman Empire flowers also had strong religious and political meanings for the Turks. Certain flowers, such as the rose, the tulip and the carnation were particularly powerful and it is not uncommon to find portraits of sultans and military leaders in which they are smelling a bloom. Carnations could signify everything from the political to the divine, which were of course intertwined. Evoking spiritual contemplation, they symbolized the power of the renewal of life and its intermingling with the heavenly gardens of paradise.

Haydar Reis (Nigari), Admiral of the Fleet Hizir Hayrettin Pasa (Barbarossa)  (Topkapi Palace Museum)

The town of Iznik in Turkey rose to prominence in the middle of the 16th century as advances in pottery making materials were coupled with the patronage of the Ottoman court and an emphasis on artistry under Suleiman the Magnificent. The newly developed floral artistic style of Kara Memi showed to advantage in the painted surfaces of the pottery. The fan-shaped carnations and three petalled tulips are my favorites among the spring flowers traditionally featured.

iknik pottery dish via bonhams

A great write-up on the chronology of the evolution of Iznik ceramics, as well as a peak into an extraordinary collection can be found on the Louvre’s Three Empires of Islam mini site. Like I mentioned in the textiles post, the “flowering” of this style happened post 1540, when the naturalistic floral designs rose to prominence via the influence of the imperial painting studio. At some point soon I’ll delve into the earlier pottery which was mainly blue and white and highly influenced by Chinese imports, but right now I’m loving the colored slips that characterize pieces from the 1550s…

bowl with carnations Louvre

..as well as those that show the emergence of a true polychrome palette with the clear red, green and turquoise we most often associate with this pottery in the 3rd quarter of the century. I got the full color and floral palette from these pieces at the V & A this summer.

Iznik pottery at the V&A

I’ve got lots to learn on the subject but resources are forthcoming. The Museum of Islamic Art here yielded this treasure, Iznik: The Artistry of Ottoman Ceramics by Walter B. Denny, which I am slowly absorbing. The illustrations are outstanding! Denny was also the co-curator with Sumru Belger Krody of The Sultan’s Garden exhibition I mentioned previously.

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There is quite a bit of Iznik buzz out and about in the blogosphere, much of it due to the Iksel‘s incredible printed wall panels which come to think of it, show up prominently in Tory Burch’s Southampton home - so she has definitely caught the bug. In Rebecca de Ravenel’s New York apartment – I told you I’d be mining her space for many posts too – you can spy an Iznik style bowl on the coffee table.

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The Turkish pottery industry is alive and well, turning out wares of varying types and quality. Istanbul is high on my list of places to get to soon, but in the meantime, an easy fix can be had by ordering through online sites like Yurdan.

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We saw quite a bit of modern Iznik-style wares being produced in the Old City in Jerusalem during our trip this winter. Armenian potters were brought over from Turkey in 1919 to repair the tiles covering the outside walls of the Dome of the Rock and they and their families never left. Over time they have created their own style of Jerusalem pottery, based on Turkish artistry.

Sandrouni green carnation

I didn’t buy any because typically I am obsessed with age and patina. Antique Iznik pottery is not something you see frequently available for sale as it is both rare and quite expensive, but there is an unusual and fantastic (in multiple meanings of the word) new antique shop here in Doha that I will be profiling in the coming month. I saw this piece earlier this fall and while it doesn’t have carnations, I think I could make do with its lovely tulip and hyacinth pattern. I’m in love with its luminescent greens and blues and I have been stalking it for some time now.

Iznik plate from new Doha antique store

If you remember this photo from this post, you’ll know I am game to add some regional pottery to my Japanese pieces – I think the mix would be fascinating.

moroccan lavender Domino

And as little follow up to my last post, I have two photos that I forgot to include in a small case of blogger brain freeze (Does this happen to any of you? Things you planned to put in that you just simply forgot?) But the lavender in the early Carolina Irving room below certainly links nicely to the room above, so I’ll try not to feel bad about it. This photo is from about 1995, so it gives a good sense of how she was finding her style even then. Note the carnation pillow and the tiles on the wall.

Carolina Irving 1995 ED Ottoman Carnation

And I absolutely meant to include this Tory Burch showroom photo with its giant carnation throw pillows, which look to be Robert Kime’s Palmette. Be sure to notice the other Turkish motifs in the wallpaper, including the three-pronged tulip and the great mix with the Asian blue and white porcelain.

Tory Burch beverley hills store via domaine carnation

So maybe it was actually a bit of luck that I forgot these photos the other day and could include them here. Because in addition to everything else in the room, the coffee table is basically the dream piece I have been searching for for the last five months to finish the living room here. It makes a perfect segway to next week’s post on brass, glass and lucite coffee tables.

Related Posts:
Carnation Fixation…Ottoman Inspired Textiles
Colors of the Rainbow…Blue and White Porcelain is Neutral
Preferring Patina Over Perfection…Chipped Porcelain, Threadbare Rugs and Old World Glamour at Tissus Tartares

Image Credits: 1, 5 & 10 my Instagram, 2. Haydar Reis (Nigari), Admiral of the Fleet Hizir Hayrettin Pasa (Barbarossa) (Topkapi Palace Museum) via Sedef’s Corner, 3. via Bonhams, 4. via The Louvre, 6. Iznik: The Artistry of Ottoman Ceramics by Walter B. Denny, 7. APT with LSD: Rebecca de Ravenel’s New York City Apartment in Vogue, photo credit: Jeremy Allen, 8. via Yurdan, 9.via Sandrouni, 10. Domino, date unknown, 11. Elle Decor 1995 via Riviera View, 12. via Domaine Home.

Design Vision…Knowing Your Own Mind

As a follow-up to my Provenance column on kasuri over at Cloth & Kind, I want to show more photos of one of the featured spaces, the apartment of a friend here in Tokyo who has an incredibly clear personal decorating vision. Eclecticism and constant change are the reigning monarchs of the design world, so every now and then it is nice to have a very different vision – in this case a specific and coherent viewpoint, a vintage Japanese lens so to speak – to compare with. Many people don’t have the rigor to be this consistent – I know I certainly don’t – but there is a peacefulness that comes with it.

I’ve shopped with and for this friend and I always know what will appeal to her. Authenticity and patina, along with a certain roughness of finish and a palette of browns, ochres, and greys, with variety picked out in texture. The photo below was meant to feature the homespun kasuri futon cover (purchased at Kawagoe), but it also highlights a very few pieces of an enormous collection of modern Japanese pottery, much of it bought up in Mashiko, the famous pottery village. Much to my chagrin, I didn’t think to photograph the insides of her cupboards – that may have to wait for some other post. Most everything else was accumulated at shrine sales around Tokyo and she is unabashed when I pick something up and say “this has your name on it!” She knows her own mind.

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Heading back out to the entry way to start the tour properly, the tone is set for the entire space as you walk in. Everything shows its age, from the vintage silkworm basket hanging on the wall, to the abacus and sake jug on the rustic cabinet.  And here we see the beginning of one of the motifs in this space – the juxtaposition of squares and rectangles with circles, which the owner uses over and over again to great effect.

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As I was there to photograph the kasuri futon cover, the rest of the photo shoot was a bit ad hoc, so excuse wires and everyday items that would normally be put away or out of sight.  The truth is, seeing spaces as they are really used is more authentic anyway.

The television wall has a great collection of Japanese baskets including a big old rectangular silkworm tray.  I continue to think big baskets are a great trick for TV walls – they balance the large dark expanse of the equipment while posing no heavy threat to it. The owner is an insatiable collector of baskets, second only perhaps to pottery – she cannot resist them – adoring their texture and lightness. The use of baskets throughout the apartment is another constant motif.

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A corner of the living room gives pride of place to a beat up old tansu and a beautiful still life of finely woven basket mounted with a single branch. The limited color palette, augmented only by bits of natural green and a little blue, with texture for interest, is yet a third motif in the space.

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Another vignette repeats the patterns, small cabinet, fine baskets and branches and a sweet bird print tucked into a silver leafed cherry wood frame.

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This arrangement on the kitchen counter has lots of my favorites, including a glass senbei canister, a vintage sieve, some old signage and more pottery.

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It’s not only in Japan that the owner is so consistent. Not at all surprising to discover that she has a historically accurate and incredibly well-preserved 1830s home in Connecticut. From the outside you would never guess that parts of the house are an addition as they worked to keep a natural roofline, the kind that develops with additions over the years. The interiors blend the old and the new by using antique flooring and antique beams salvaged from an old barn found elsewhere in Connecticut. The old part of the house has all the original wide board flooring, beams, and horse hair plaster walls. The house itself is filled with Americana of the period, antique cupboards, dry sinks, blanket chests, quilts, crocks, and yes – pottery – lots and lots of pottery, but in this case classic American redware and yellowware.

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Adore this winter photo but I am looking forward to seeing it this summer! And whenever it is that she moves back, I’m even more interested in seeing the dialogue between the old Japanese and American pieces. I think it will be a lively conversation.

Caught in a Net…Ami Pattern on Porcelain and More

One of my favorite “so ancient and simple that it’s modern” Japanese motifs is ami or fish net pattern. I’ve been tracking blue and white porcelain pieces here at shrine sales and antique shops for years, like this beautiful sake cup washer and hire (like a small hibachi from a smoking set). The sake cup washer has a very linear version of the pattern, while the hire looks almost Middle Eastern in its curvilinear painting, reminding me of these floor tiles! The pattern is common, but rare at the same time, so I always notice it when I see a piece. Not an unexpected motif if you think about how much life in Japan revolves around fish!

Unlike the rounded pieces above, these rectangular dishes show the star-like pattern at the center of the nets and the larger of the dishes even has an open and loosely linked rendition, versus the tighter nets.

Here on this small dish the net is softly and irregularly painted.

Imagine my surprise when ami cropped up in a slightly different form at a recent ladies luncheon with the renowned Japanese food expert Elizabeth Andoh that focused on the art of mixing dishes and plating food.  Out came a rustic but elegant Mashiko pottery plate in the fish net pattern in a glossy copper and verdigris. She called the pattern ajiro, but I think that is actually more of a traditional herringbone style basket weave and that this too is ami.

Just a week or so later, I finally got to visit the Mashiko pottery festival myself, which I haven’t been to in years! I came across a few examples of that same style, perhaps even the same potter to my eye, including this huge spectacular vessel. From my lack of posts lately you can tell life has got me by the ankle and isn’t letting go, but I hope to write more about my experience there soon.

Shortly after that I came across this formal lacquer ware version from my friend Mizue Sasa’s shop Okura Oriental Art - haute couture fish net!

Fish net pattern can be found on much more than just dishes, whether stylized in sashiko embroidery as well as realistically patterned directly in textiles and art. There are a few very famous ukiyo-e featuring actual nets, but I quite like this one by Utagawa Yoshiiku, called  “A Parody of Goldfish with Actor’s Expressions.” It seems the public in the day would have recognized these fish faces for whom they were meant to represent. I quite like that the title is written against a background of fish net.

While I can do without the silly faces on those fish, all this talk (writing?) of fish and fish nets has got me thinking about another project I am working on, the 2013 ASIJ Gala Quilt. Using a background of vintage blue kasuri (the Japanese version of ikat) pieced in a neat but kinda boro style, we are planning on appliqueing a grouping of koi.

The koi will be varying shades of orange and white silk shibori (tie-dye). Here’s a first glimpse of a mock-up to whet your appetite.

We had been talking about some water pattern quilting but now I am thinking that perhaps we want to use the fish net motif, picked out in white quilting thread.  Just loving this idea! What say you Julie Fukuda and Kendra Morgenstern?

Related Posts:
After the Earthquake…Help Rebuild the Kilns at Mashiko
Guest Post…Visiting the Mashiko Pottery Festival
The ASIJ Quilt…Summer Breezes: Furin in the Rock Garden
Coming Full Circle…A History of the ASIJ Gala Quilt

The Life of Objects…Stories of Paintings, Pottery and Netsuke in Edmund de Waal’s “The Hare With Amber Eyes”

“How objects are handed on is all about story-telling. I am giving this to you because I love you. Or because it was given to me, Because I bought it somewhere special. Because you will care for it. Because it will complicate your life. Because it will make someone else envious. There is no easy story in legacy. What is remembered and what is forgotten? There can be a chain of forgetting, the rubbing away of previous ownership as much as the slow accretion of stories.”

Have you ever read a book, assuming you would like it but not expecting it to completely rock your world? Well that is the way it was for me upon reading Edmund de Waal’s family biography The Hare With Amber Eyes. Numerous friends had recommended it to me, assuming I would be interested in the collection of 264 antique Japanese netsuke that are the theoretical protagonists of the book, which I was, but I had not realized how every bit of it would seem to tie in with my own writing and collecting and that reading it would become a very personal journey.

The story itself is like an onion, with layers that peel away, yet link back up with each other. Sometimes it feels almost too fantastical to be true, impossible that such detailed records remain, that the life of these tiny objects can be tracked so clearly. The netsuke themselves are a conceit, used to tie a multi-generational, multi-national story together. Edmund de Waal, the renowned British potter (who makes Japanese inspired pieces himself) inherits an extraordinary collection of Edo period netsuke from his Viennese Uncle Iggie, who actually lived out his adult life in Tokyo. Yet the netsuke were originally acquired by Iggie’s father’s cousin in Paris in the 1870s, then given as a wedding present to Iggie’s father in Vienna at the turn of the century. As we read, we know that war is coming, so it becomes hard to imagine how they eventually make their way onward, and I will not spoil that surprise. But there is also a kind of magic in knowing from the very beginning of the book that these netsuke are a sort of sick punch line, in that they survive even when people don’t, and that somehow they even make it back to their country of origin over 100 years later.

Netsuke, the tiny toggle sculptures used to anchor small carrying cases called sagemono to a kimono sash (obi) are extremely coveted and collectible, and thus by default, quite valuable. Most commonly made of ivory, wood or bone, these lifelike inch long sculptures are detailed works of art, depicting everything from people engaged in everyday rituals of every sorts, to animals, plants and even mythological creatures. I occasionally see them at shrine sales, more often at the better antique shows - Heiwajima would be a good place to look this weekend – but I think of them in the same category as obidome (the jeweled belt clips which I adore) and tsuba (sword guards). In other words, small and beautiful, but somewhat useless. In the last few days I have been to a few shrine sales and really kept my eyes peeled for them, getting lucky with one dealer who had some in complete sets, strung on cords with their inro (a stacked compartment carrying case) and ojime closure bead. The two examples below demonstrate the range of netsuke, from the simplest disk on the left, to a detailed, although fairly crudely carved figure on the right. Both inro are made of lacquer, with maki-e sprinkled gilding.

The original collector of the netsuke, Charles Ephrussi, the cousin of De Waal’s great-grandfather, was at the heart of the art and salon scene in late 19th century Paris. Originally from Odessa, the Ephrussi’s were one of the great Jewish banking clans, second perhaps to only the Rothschilds, that fanned their way out through Europe in the 19th and early 20th century, establishing places of business and grand houses in France, Austria, England, Greece and elsewhere. Charles was a writer and editor of art magazines and collector of fine works of art. Like many of his contemporaries, he became enthralled with the Japonisme craze sweeping through Europe in the 1860s and 1870s. In addition to his 264 netsuke, he had a collection of 33 black and gold lacquer boxes and an extraordinary group of Impressionist paintings, supporting artists whose names we all know now at the very start of their careers. The list of Charles’ paintings reads like the home runs of the Impressionist world, a forty piece collection accumulated in just three short years. Solidifying his fame, Charles himself appears in Renoir’s masterpiece Luncheon of the Boating Party, the man in the top hat towards the back, and served as inspiration for Proust’s Charles Swann in Remembrance of Things Past.

“I want to know what the relationship has been between this wooden object that I am rolling between my fingers – hard and tricky and Japanese – and where it has been. I want to be able to reach to the handle of the door and turn it and feel it open. I want to walk into each room where this object has lived, to feel the volume of the space, to know what pictures were on the walls, how the light fell from the windows. And I want to know whose hands it has been in, and what they felt about it and thought about it – if they thought about it. I want to know what it has witnessed.”

Just like de Waal, I too want to see exactly where and what the netsuke lived with, to imagine them all crowded into his rooms on the rue de Monceau in Paris, so I could not resist pulling up the images of his paintings, now scattered in the world’s finest museums, to share in just that way. All of the paintings below, and many more that I do not show, had places of pride in Charles’ home.

The most charming story centers on Charles’ purchase of Edouard Manet’s Une botte d’asperges, for which Manet charged 800 francs but Charles sent 1000.

In grateful response to his over-payment, Manet sends on second small painting of a single stalk of asparagus!

The influence of Japanese prints on the Impressionist perspective can clearly be seen in Degas’ portrait of Edmund Duranty, painter and subject both friends of Charles, that hung in his study.

Charles also owned Monet’s Les Baines de la Grenouillère that now hangs in The National Gallery in London.

A personal moment for me, as this painting is the sister to the Monet below – La Grenouillère - which has been hanging in the Metropolitan Museum of Art and long been my favorite Monet. I wrote a huge paper about it for an art history class in college. I wonder if it is packed up in a box somewhere?

He also owned Manet’s Portrait de Constantin Guys…

…and General Mellinet and Chief Rabbi Astruc by Degas. I imagine them all hanging (out) on the wall together, chatting, like the portraits at Hogwarts.

I am not sure if this Degas pastel At the Milliner’s is the actual one Charles owned…

…or this one, or perhaps even both.

Charles owned many works by Degas including In a Cafe, better known as L’Absinthe. Their friendship, and many others, ended over the Dreyfus Affair, as the roots of anti-Semitism in French society became exposed.

At the turn of the century, Charles packed up the netsuke and sent it to his nephew Viktor in Vienna on the occasion of his marriage.  Viktor’s new home, the Palais Ephrussi, was so grand that one cannot imagine these tiny figures making any statement there. And they do not. The netsuke were no longer displayed publicly, instead they were kept in Viktor’s wife Emmy’s dressing room, where the children took them out and played with them as they watched her dress.

Here I will stop the tale for a while and recommend that anyone planning on reading the book should not research any further into the story. As we know who and what is coming, in the form of Hitler and the Anschluss, I will leave that tale to de Waal. I find it all too painful to write about anyway.

And so we return full circle, as not only have the netsuke made their way back to Japan with Uncle Iggie and his partner Jiro as the book opens, but de Waal himself studies Japanese ceramics as a young man, a result of that historical Leach-Yanagi friendship that ties British and Japanese pottery together. In the aftermath of the earthquake last year, the Leach Pottery was quick to start a foundation to help rebuild the historic kilns at Mashiko. And ironically for me, the book opens with de Waal taking Japanese language courses at the very school here in Tokyo that I currently attend for the same reason.“Iggie and Jiro’s life was lived in another kind of Real Japan,” and I like to think that we do too.

Just like Charles and Viktor, Iggie keeps the netsuke in a glass vitrine, a display case, which is another conceit for de Waal’s story and one that influences his own work highly. At first, he thinks vitrines “exist so that you can see objects, but not touch them.” But what he comes to realize is that “the vitrine – as opposed to the museum’s case – is for opening. And that opening glass door and the moment of looking, then choosing, and then reaching in and picking up is a moment of seduction, an encounter between a hand and an object that is electric.”

I have not been able to find any formal writing on the influence of the netsuke and his family’s history on de Waal’s own work, but it clearly has played a major role. He creates huge installations, full of similar but different pots, often grouped on shelves. Does that sound familiar?

“He is an interesting example of a potter who has not left the studio but has been determined to escape that solitary plinth with its unique object atop. You will all be familiar with his move from domestic porcelain to a series of installations that ‘animate’ (his word) particular interiors and to interventions in museum collections. 1999 was the decisive year in which de Waal arranged his pots in cupboards and on tables in Howe and Lescaze’s High Cross House at Dartington in Devon; he described this as a ‘personal conversation with iconic modernism’. De Waal’s post-plinth strategy is based in part on massing. Thus he references the richesse and generous display of the eighteenth century porcelain room.” (quote from a lecture by Tanya Harrod in 2009)

Edmund de Waal’s place in the lexicon of British ceramics is confirmed by his centrally located Signs & Wonders installation in the new ceramic galleries at The Victoria & Albert Museum. To learn more, there is a great 5 minute video and a wonderful article by A.S. Byatt about them.

De Waal will not allow himself any “melancholy” or “nostalgia about all that lost wealth and glamour from a century ago,” he doesn’t want “to get into the sepia saga business.” But after reading the book I find that I am angry for him and I am surprised at the strength of my feelings. My forebears came from the same places as his. I had a great-grandfather from Vienna on one side and a grandfather from Odessa on the other. My grandfather left Russia in 1917 to avoid the Revolution as he was from well-heeled family – he spoke French and was studying to be an architect – and he worked his way across Turkey, through France and onward to America. But I know little more than that about his story and have no objects to tie me to him. In fact, there are no family objects that tie me to any of my ancestors – the little bit of jewelry that remained was stolen out of a parking lot sometime in the 1960s before I was even born. And the truth of the matter is that I sometimes believe that lack of connection through items is what propelled me into being an antiques dealer. As a girl my favorite books were those where the characters explored their grandmother’s attics, opening trunks filled with clothes and talismans from long ago, feeding a fantasy of connection with those long gone. If you think about it, so many books for kids and teens, even the Harry Potter series, rest on those kind of connections.

I did have an exciting inheritance moment last year though, not long after buying the beach house in New Jersey. I was at my in-laws in Florida, packing to fly up to New York and then home to Japan. I looked up in the guest bedroom closet and saw a group of quilted dish protectors, clearly stacked full of a china service. In the back of my mind a little voice said “those are yours” but I couldn’t imagine what they were. I took one down and unzipped it, while simultaneously remembering that my grandmother had a set that no one needed or wanted when we were forced to move her out of her apartment and into a home. At the time, I couldn’t bear to get rid of them while not having enough space in my New York apartment to take them, so I left them in Florida and forgot about them. As I lifted the dish out of its case, I couldn’t believe it – they were absolutely perfect – having just the colors and soft feel I wanted in the beach house. It was as if my beloved grandmother was right there with me in that moment!

When asked by a neighbor if really the netsuke should stay in Japan, de Waal answers no. “Objects have always been carried, sold, bartered, stolen, retrieved and lost. People have always given gifts. It is how you tell their stories that matters.”

Related Posts:
Artist Spotlight…Dancers, Degas and the Demi-Monde in Yokohama
Artist Spotlight…A Final Dose of Japonisme for the New Year
Artist Spotlight…William Merritt Chase’s Japonisme Interiors

Image credits: 1. de Waal’s netsuke, photo credit unknown, 2.via AW Antiques and Collectibles, 3. me, 4. via The Phillips Collection, 5. via Impressionism Art Org, 6. via Musée D’Orsay, 7. via Glasgow Museums, 8. via The National Gallery, 9. via The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 10. via Wiki Media, 11. via Wiki Paintings, 12. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 13. via Wiki Paintings, 14. via Musée D’Orsay, 15. via Planet Vienna, 16. via The Economist, 17-18. via My Mama’s Table, 19. via The Victoria & Albert Museum, 20. me.

Guest Post…Visiting the Mashiko Pottery Festival

For my first ever guest post, Dalia Gold reports on a shopping excursion to the famous Japanese pottery town of Mashiko. The destruction of the kilns after the Great East Japan Earthquake was featured earlier on the blog here and updates on the situation here

The forecast called for and delivered clear, sunny skies for my first trip to the legendary Mashiko pottery festival. I’d been waiting almost a year for the day to arrive, having heard stories about rows upon rows of pottery stands.

Originating in 1966, the fair is now held twice a year – in the fall and spring – and draws approximately 150,000 people and 400,000 people, respectively. Last spring, the Great East Earthquake destroyed the ancient kilns used for generations to bake the clay works. Donations and support came from around the world to help rebuild the kilns and November 4, 2011 marked the second pottery fair after the devastation. More than 500 artisans displayed their work, including many from Mashiko and areas beyond, as well.

Much more information about the history of Mashiko pottery can be found at: www.mta.mashiko.tochigi.jp

I expected to be overwhelmed and had brought a small, wheelie suitcase, as I’d been advised, to store my purchases as I strolled. I had no particular agenda nor strategy for the expedition. I only knew that I didn’t want to leave thinking, “Why didn’t I buy that when I had the chance?”

The vendors at the beginning of the fair had mostly functional, primitive pieces. I bought these small bowls, finished in Nuka White (rice husk ash) glaze and paired them with these funky, unfinished green chargers.

As I moved deeper into the stalls, I found myself drawn to pieces featuring spouts, irregular shapes and almost anything white.

I think these oval pieces may be intended for ikebana, but I bought one to use as an everyday fruit plate.


Loved the simplicity of, and so purchased, both of these, which look great with the fruit bowl.

Though I didn’t buy one, I love the utilitarian grater featured in these spouted works.

As with so many things I’ve seen in Japan, the elegant simplicity of some displays rivaled the artistry of some of the goods being sold.

Other collections for sale besides pottery included glass, incense and shoes.

Given the huge piles of rubble within, I think these warehouses may be the sites of some of the kilns which were destroyed, although they had certainly been cleaned up from last spring,

After exhausting myself among the stalls, I finally arrived at the main street, where many finer pieces of art were for sale. The glaze on this vase looks as if there are layers of mosaic tiles beneath the smooth surface. The photo doesn’t do justice to the gorgeous tones of blue, grey and green held within.

My wheelie bag was full, and I had a couple of shopping bags draped over my arms as I returned to the parking lot before heading home. I’d been true to aim – not to leave any beloveds behind – and yet, I already knew I would need to return next year.

Tokyo Jinja

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