[Clayart] Raku (Mike Gordon)

Steven Branfman sbranfpots at aol.com
Wed Dec 25 11:12:11 EST 2013

Mike and All,

Thanks for sharing this. I'm not sure where this account comes from either but there is a high degree of accuracy about it, though there is also much inherent uncertainty. In "Techniques For Contemporary Potters: Raku" Chris Tyler and Rick Hirsch (Watson Guptill, long out of print) present an excellent history of Raku. In fact, it presents virtually all of the information that was allowed to be shared and able to be uncovered at the time of the writing of the book in 1975. This was due to Rick's visit to Japan and meeting Raku Kichizaemon, the 15th generation Raku Family member. However, the single most complete and in many ways epic account of Raku was written by Morgan Pitelka. "Handmade Culture, Raku Potters, Patrons, And Tea Practitioners In Japan" (University Of Hawaii Press) is the result of Morgan's discovery of and extensive study of previously secret documents that he was allowed access to. Not only is it the first complete account of the history of Raku, it uncovers many other provocative facts about pottery, collecting, culture, and society. It is on my list of "must read" books about pottery history and culture. Vince mentioned his son's book in a recent CLAYART post but his modesty prevented him from giving the book the kind of accolades and recommendations that it deserves.


-----Original Message-----

Message: 1
Date: Tue, 24 Dec 2013 16:12:48 -0800
From: Mike Gordon <clayart at earthlink.net>
To: clayart at lists.clayartworld.com
Subject: [Clayart] RAKU
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Just ran across this in my files, I can't remember where I got it, too 
long ago, some time in '07. Mike Gordon

Raku is not made on a wheel, but hand-thrown, and can been fired at 
very low temperatures. One theory has it that raku was introduced to 
Japan by a Korean called Ameya early in the 16th century.
  Rikyu employed the Chojiro l to make raku vessels for his tea 
gatherings, and established the ?soi? shape, although this has many 
variations. From the late 16th century, Hideyoshi used raku at his 
Jurakutei palace, and the term ?juraku ware? is used. But it was the 
2nd generation raku head, Jokei, who received a seal reading ?raku?, 
thus giving rise to the name by which the ware is now known.
  The clay used in raku is ideal for retaining tea?s heat, for the same 
reasons as that it can be fired at such a low temperature. It is warm 
in the hand and pleasant to hold. It is modest in colour and relaxed, 
and in a perfect harmony with Rikyu?s aesthetics of tea. Raku became 
the symbol of wabi tea. There are various glazes, and raku comes in 
red, black and white forms. There are also raku vessels that are not 
teabowls, such as horoku pans. Rikyu preferred the black sort, 
considering it the most antique in feel, but Hideyoshi?s taste was 
different. He regarded the Rikyu?s black bowls as too free and loose, 
and thus as opposed to his own authority.
  The Raku family has worked for the Sen house for 15 generations, up to 
the present. But they have not been slaves to tradition, but have 
allowed their potting to evolve. The 3rd generation head, Michiiri, was 
famous for his novel glazes and forms. Rikyu?s grandson, Sotan, loved 
Michiiri?s work and gave him the familiar name Nonko. Michiiri moved 
away from what is called ?old? Raku and innovated, and is held to be 
the best of all the Raku line.
  The original raku kiln was kept, but others were also constructed, and 
each generation added their own. One of the best known side-raku 
potters was Hon?ami Koetsu, by whom countless excellent teabowls are 

Related Illustrations?:? Chojiro, Black Raku Tea Bowl, named 
'Goose-Catcher' (Gantori)  ?|? Chojiro Black Raku Ware Tea Bowl,named 
Explanation?:? Sen-no-rikyu?|? Furuta Oribe?|? Kobori Enshu?|? 
Kireisabi?|? Kohoan?|? Hakakunocha?|? Enan?|? Soanchashitsu?|? Taian?|? 
Takeno Joo?|? Yojohanchashitsu?|? Murata Juko?|? Wabisuki?|? 
Daitokuji?|? Fushinan?|? Sen Sotan?|? Chazenichimi?|? 
Kitanodaichakai?|? Toyotomi Hideyoshi?|? Ogon-no-chashitsu (The Golden 
Teahut)?|? The Early History?|? Higashiyama Collection?|? Chinese 
Goods?|? Korean teawares?|? Oribe ware?|? Reassessed Famous Item?|? Oda 
Nobunaga?|? Famous-ware hunting


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