Condition: Excellent

Japanese Antique Oribe-yaki Tea Cups with Poem | Otagaki Rengetsu | Meiji Period 19th/Century

These are classic stoneware Rengetsu tea cups, wonderful to the touch and beautifully incised with calligraphy. Since each cup is fairly large, Rengetsu had more freedom than usual to place the characters and to compose them with larger strokes.
 These Oribe-yaki style tea cups are extremely beautiful and textured, varying slightly in size because of being hand formed. Each cup shows a poetic ornamentation, which represents different poems written by Otagaki Rengetsu. No breaks, no cracks or restoration. These are being sold as a set of three. Dimensions:       3-1/8” dia, x 3-0”h.

Additional Information—

Otagaki Rengetsu, (1791-1875), is a Buddhist nun who is regarded as one of Japan’s greatest waka poets of the 19th century. Betrothed at age 17, a son was born to her but died a short time later. There followed the birth of two daughters, who also died at a young age. Shortly before her second daughter died, Otagaki-san separated from her husband, who was a drunkard and a gambler, and who also died that same year. She was to find happiness in her second marriage, only to experience tragedy once again when he died of a sudden illness. At age 33, she gathered her strength and will to survive, shaved her head and took vows as a Pure Land Buddhist nun taking the name Rengetsu, “Lotus Moon.”

In order to support herself, she drew upon her artistic skills. An accomplished poet, potter, painter and calligrapher, she was also skilled in the martial arts, sewing and dancing. She created unique poetry in a beautiful style of calligraphy and uniquely carved or painted it onto her pottery, which she created for public and tea ceremony use. She encouraged other artists, and created works in combination with them. After living in a number of temples she settled at the Jinko-in where she lived out the rest of her life. One has to keep in mind that Rengetsu lived in Japan’s feudal society where women had limited legal rights in marriage, property, divorce, inheritance and status. Her very existence was a testament to her will to survive.

Oribe —This high-fired pottery, Oribe ware, was produced during the later sixteenth century. Its glazed surfaces are usually sparingly decorated with abstract graffiti-like drawings on a white to cream ground. Any color is introduced through the use of a copper glaze, which produces dark to bright green areas. However, a black color appears on some Oribe ware as well.

All of the techniques involved were developed at the Mino kilns, and the ware derived its name from the great Mino-born tea master, Furuta Oribe, (1544-1615). While his exact relationship to the pottery is unclear, the wares are said to reflect his aesthetics. Oribeyaki types include sou-oribe, (completely covered with green glaze), ao-oribe, (partially covered with green glaze), e-oribe, (with iron painted pattens), aka-oribe, (combination of red and white clay), shino-oribe, (utilizing techniques of e-shino), and kuro-oribe, (with black glaze). Oribe potters often employed molds to make complex shapes, and experimented with a range of vessel forms.

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