Double-lidded tea jar
Double-lidded tea jar
I brushed the outside of this jar with a wild Shigaraki clay. It’s coarse and you can really see the character of the natural clay in it
I was inspired to make these by two sources. First by Ryan, a potter who sits next to me in the studio. He’s a total tea person and he makes beautiful tea wares—including some double lidded tea canisters.
Second, in Shigaraki there is a tradition of making pretty straight tea canisters with a small single lid made of bone or ivory. They typically fixed a sheet of gold leaf under the lid. This not only looks nice, but was also had a tactical use... apparently gold discolors if a common poison was present in the tea. This seems very specific to me, but it’s what I was told. Can’t help wondering why a poisoner would go for the tea leaves? I mean once everyone had the gold leaf trick down? Maybe only the rich could afford the gold leaf tea canisters. They are quite lovely. I saw one at a local pottery for $1,000. Dream on, Hamish. If anyone tries to poison my tea leaves I’ll be none the wiser. Why am I telling you this?
History of tea wares/my tea journey in Japan:
I’ve always been into tea. Growing up in England, tea is a habit—it’s hot and milky and frequent. I love this kind of ritual, but in Japan, it is so much more involved. Part of why I wanted to come to Japan was to immerse myself in its tea culture. The first big eye-opener came when visiting the Rikyū Museum in Sakai. Rikyū is believed to have started the modern Japanese tea ceremony. He lived from 1522 - 1591 and he has had a huge influence on tea culture, but also Japanese ceramics as a whole. He wanted to use items with more ‘wabi’ as opposed to the expensive Chinese tea wares that were popular at the time. He was friends with a tile maker named Chojiro and through their collaboration, they began the practice of Wabi-Sabi. Chojiro set out to make simple tea bowls that expressed the nature of the clay and gave a feeing of wabi. It’s not easy to describe this—in fact many believe once you put it into words it’s meaning is gone. Chojiro was the first in a long line of the Raku family. They still make tea bowls in the same way and with the same methodology as Chojiro... no wheel, just hand formed and carved when dry enough. But each successive generation is expected to not just copy old tea bowls but form their own language with the clay. It was very inspiring to see 500 years of tea bowls laid out, including one from the current master, Raku Kichizaemon (the 15th generation).