Akira Satake, Potter; Swannanoa, NC
Emiko Nishiwaki, Independent Scholar; Agui, JAPAN
The tea ceremony, chanoyu, emerged in the sixteenth century. Originally, it was an elite artistic pursuit that provided a forum for the rulers of Japan, the warrior elite, and wealthy merchants to forge and reinforce social ties. In the tea room, the emphasis is on the interaction between the host, guests, and tea utensils. The host chooses an assemblage of objects specific to that gathering and uses those utensils to perform the tea preparations in front of the guests. Each tea gathering is a unique experience, so a particular assemblage of objects and people is never repeated. The guests are expected to abide by tea room etiquette with regard to the gestures used to drink the tea and the appreciation of the utensils.
Many of the Japanese-made ceramics used in this ceremony are unglazed stonewares first intended as utilitarian vessels for farmers. Since their purpose was not decorative, these vessels were not necessarily made with aesthetic considerations in mind. When fired in the kiln, ash would settle on the shoulders of jars, melt, and drip down the sides, resulting in natural ash glazes. Therefore, the ultimate appearance of these rustic pieces was unpredictable, shaped more by the forces of fire and the natural characteristics of the clay than by a careful hand. Shortly after tea practitioners began to take an interest in the utilitarian vessels from sites like Shigaraki and Bizen, these kilns began changing their approach to ceramic production. They introduced new shapes into their repertoire that were specifically designed for use in the tea ceremony. Furthermore, the establishment of the tea ceremony also led to the creation of new types of wares, such as Raku, Shino, and Oribe.-+