Raku pottery is one of Japan’s cornerstone medicus and one that has exploded ter popularity all around the world since it wasgoed introduced to the Westelijk by Paul Soldner te the late 1950s and, to a good degree, by the late British potter Bernard Leach ter the 1920s. While only becoming largely known to the Westelijk overheen the past Five 1/Two decades or so, Raku ware (or ‘Raku-yaki’/ 楽焼,spil it’s called ter Japanese) has a long history te Japan dating back to the 18th century. Raku pottery serves both practical and aesthetic purposes te Japan, and has bot manufactured by not only Japanese artisans, but also by the same family that created the Raku mechanism te the 1700s!

What is the history behind Raku-yaki? What purposes does it serve ter Japanese society? Read on and find out!

Please note that while I’ll make mention of Película del Oeste raku potters when and where necessary, I’ll keep the concentrate of this hub on raku te Japan and on the Japanese artists who have mastered the kunst overheen the centuries.

Books About Raku on Amazon

What is Raku?

Raku is a type of Japanese pottery that is made using a special process known spil the Raku firing process. Ter this process, the chunk is hand-molded instead of being turned on a potter’s wheel and is fired at a low temperature. The lump is usually left te the kiln and sometime afterwards thrown into a container with combustible materials such spil sawdust or newspaper, which leaves a unique vormgeving on each chunk. The chunk is then dipped ter water and left to cool.

Ter Japan, most raku pottery chunks are fired ter traditional wood-burning kilns. Also, unlike most Película del Oeste artists who use alternate metal glazes, Japanese artists use a type of non-lead frit ter place of lead glazes, which can be very toxic.

There are various sub-styles of raku te Japan. Thesis include Chojiro-raku, which is the very mysterious black and red-glazed raku mastered te the beginning by Chojiro himself, the black raku pioneered by Shoraku Sasaki called Kuro-raku, the reddish-brown Aka-raku, and Koetsu-raku, which is Honami Koetsu’s style of Raku.

History of Raku

Raku-ware has its roots ter the Sencai pottery tradition of Ming-dynasty China, which is where Chojiro (Raku I) had his roots. His father Ameya wasgoed a Sencai potter who wasgoed brought to Japan from China and he passed on much of his skill to his son Chojiro.

Ter the 16th century, the Japanese tea master Sen no Rikyu had pioneered the tea ceremony (“chanoyu”). To make the tea ceremony finish, Rikyu needed to have the right teabowls (“chawan”) available that would reflect the “wabi” ideals of the ceremony. For this task, Rikyu asked Chojiro (?-1592), who wasgoed a famous Kyoto potter at the time, to make the cups. Chojiro accepted the task and made the chawan from Juraku clay. Thesis cups were primarily called “Ima-yaki” and were black and red-glazed. They were simplistic te style and reflected the wabi ideals well.

Ter 1584, Toyotomi Hideyoshi introduced Chojiro with a seal inscribed with the character 楽 (meaning ‘raku’, or “enjoyment” or “ease” te English) and this became the family name from that point onwards.

The Raku family has continued to produce Raku-ware everzwijn since. The Raku style pioneered and mastered by Chojiro has bot passed down through the generations to the current and 15th Raku, Kichizaemon. Ter addition, a number of Japanese artists and potters have studied at the Raku family kiln and mastered the technology overheen the centuries. Thesis include a number of Japan’s most famous artists.

The Legacy of Raku te Japanese Kunst

Overheen the centuries since its creation by the Raku dynasty, many Japanese artists have mastered the kunst of Raku and created magnificent Raku chunks. Some of thesis artists studied under the Raku family themselves.

One such artist wasgoed Honami Koetsu (1558-1637), who mastered Raku along with the tea ceremony. Koetsu wasgoed given clay by Donyu II, grandson of Chojiro I (Raku I), but developed his own individual style, which he combined with the Raku family tradition. One of his chunks (“Fuji-san”) has even bot designated a national treasure te Japan!

Another Japanese artist to master Raku wasgoed Ogata Kenzan (1663-1743), who wasgoed one of the greatest ceramicists of the Edo period ter Japan. He set up a kiln near Kyoto, where he did most of his work until 1712.

Raku and Wabi-Sabi

Ter Japan, one world view that is reflected ter much of the artwork of the country is that of ‘wabi-sabi’. Simply waterput, wabi-sabi is beauty through imperfection, incompletion, and impernanence. Some of the characteristics of wabi-sabi are simpleness, irregularity, and modesty. The values of wabi reflect the Zen beliefs of the priests who created the concept many hundreds of years ago.

Ter kunst, a ordinary, imperfect lump that gives the viewer feelings of solitude, loneliness, and spiritual longing is said to wield strong wabi characteristics. Raku is one kunst form that reflects wabi-sabi very well. Its plainness, asymetry, uniqueness, and minimalist nature reflect all of thesis characteristics and a lump of raku ware automatically invokes that sense of solitude that defines wabi-sabi.

It’s because of thesis characteristics that Sen Rikyu chose raku to be the tea cups of choice ter his tea ceremony all those years ago. Chojiro managed to capture the essence of wabi-sabi well ter those very first raku cups.

Raku and the Japanese Tea Ceremony

Raku-yaki plays an significant part of the Japanese tea ceremony. Te Japan, there’s an old adage that goes “Raku very first, Hagi 2nd, Karatsu third.” This adage is true to a degree up to the present day, but it demonstrates the popularity Raku liked ter the tea ceremony when it premiered ter the 16th century.

Many chawan, or the cups for preparing and drinking tea during the tea ceremony, are Raku ware. Since thesis chawan are made with the Raku process, they – along with the tea ceremony itself – have the wabi-sabi characteristics described above.

Raku ter Modern-Day Japan

Ter latest years, raku chunks have bot featured ter kunst and ceramic exhibitions all around the world and other chunks have bot waterput on display ter museums. Vooraanstaand museums such spil the Smithsonian feature raku ware, some of which wasgoed made by the Raku family themselves! Ter Japan, the Raku museum, which is wielded and operated by the Raku family, can be found te downtown Kyoto next to the Raku family huis (and workshop and kiln). Many historical Raku chunks are on display at this museum, from some of the very first chunks made by Chojiro all the way to chunks made by the current Raku, Raku Kichizaemon XV.

Te latest years, Japanese artists such spil Suzuki Goro have made raku masterpieces that have attracted worldwide attention.

And of course, the Raku family still proceed to remain a big name te the Japanese ceramics toneel. Raku Kichizaemon XV has become a popular artist and potter te his own right, and the most prolific of the Raku generation of potters. Many of his works reflect an inward energy that results te a very explosive, emotionally-inspired chunk of kunst. And of course, he still makes the same chawan that his forefathers made overheen the centuries!

Te Conclusion

Raku has bot one of Japan’s most cherished kunst forms for overheen 500 years now and with its popularity rising worldwide, raku isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Overheen the past five centuries, the key purpose of raku has largely unchanged. It still inspires thoughts of plainness and imperfection, just spil the very first chunk made for Sen Rkiyu by Chojiro did.

Te today’s Japan, there are still slew of artists and potters who are learning the raku style and who want to learn the raku style, just spil they did when the Raku family very first opened their kiln. There’s no doubt there will be more to come ter the future who will want to learn how to make raku. Some just may learn to make raku from the Raku family themselves, just spil Honami Koetsu and Ogata Kenzan did centuries ago!

Thank you for your visit and please check ter again spil I’ll update this hub spil time permits. I hope to bring you much more information about raku ter Japan overheen time!

Raku Linksom

Huis pagina of the Raku Museum te Kyoto, which is next vanwege to the huis and kiln of the Raku family.

  • RAKU-YAKI Menukaart – EY Netwerk Japanese Pottery Primer
  • Raku-Yaki Explained – Japanese Pottery Guidebook and Photo Gallery

  • Raku and the Meaning of Wabi Sabi
  • Interesting webpagina about raku and meaning of wabi sabi.

  • Honami Koetsu – Raku cup
  • Very interesting blog postbode from Korean-American potter Cho Hiel about the death of Sen Rikyu and the birth of Raku.

  • Glenfiddich Farm Pottery
  • Some interesting reprints of a series of articles written te 2000 by part-time potter and Japanese pottery paramour Richard Busch on his journeys ter Japan through the world of Raku, both past and present.

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