Condition: Great

Japanese Tetsubin | Bronze and Iron Persimmon-Inspired Tea Kettle | 1920

This Tetsubin is a wonderful example of the Japanese Art of cast iron and made of Karakane, (reddish-bronze based metal), has a chased cast iron/bronze cap, finial, body, and spout, with a persimmon motif that overlaps the body and cap, (lid). The exterior finish, which is referred to as “hada”, (the grainy texture of this kettle), is crafted in a characteristic Nambu shape. The cap has a wonderful simulated persimmon branch for easy lifting. The solid handle on the kettle, which also simulates a twisted branch, is fixed in place, and does not fold down. This kettle does not have enamel coating on the interior as do the newer reproductions. The embossed stamp is just below the spout indicating that it is a Tetsubin iron teakettle, and was made under the direction of Iwashimizu Suekichi, Iwachu Foundary in the Iwate Prefecture, and prior to the foundaries well known and highly reputed status in creating Japanese Tetsubin. Condition: Consistent with age. Dimensions: 7-0” dia. x 8-0”h.

Additional Information —
Cast iron teapots and tea kettles are traditionally known in Japan as Tetsubin, and used for boiling and pouring hot water for cookiong purposes, including for making tea. Tetsubin are traditionally heated over a charcoal fire in a brazier (Binkake). It is not known exactly when the cast-iron teapots appeared in Japan, but their use is probably linked to the introduction of leaf tea, which is brewed by infusion, in contrast to the powdered tea used in the traditional tea ceremony. Soon, from being a mere domestic object, the Tetsubin became a true status symbol, with ever more elaborate designs in relief. One of the prefectures most renowned for cast iron teapots/kettles is Iwate, where the manufacture of cast iron is passed down from generation to generation. Cast iron is the product of the melting of iron poured into moulds, and the process is completely handcrafted. Almost all steps – from design, to mould creation, to coloration, are made by hand.

In the old days, cast iron kettles served multiple purposes in the home. The steam from the boiling kettle was an economical way of providing extra heat and moisture to the home in the typically cold and dry winters. It is also believed that water boiled in large kettles absorbs the iron, a definite plus for those who feel their diets are iron-deficient. The original Tetsubin were used over a naked flame, but were subject to rust if water had been left in the kettle, which was typical during this period.

Throughout the 18th century, people started drinking sencha as an informal setting for sharing a cup of tea with friends or family. As more people drank sencha, the popularity of the Tetsubin grew. The Tetsubin pot is most probably not an original design, but rather shaped by other pots around at the time. The Yakkan, is the closest relative to the Tetsubin, the main difference is that the Yakkan is made from copper, whereas Tetsubins are traditionally made out of iron. Some people have wondered why the Tetsubin was developed, when a perfectly usable vessel such as the Yakkan would have worked. Tea drinkers may have preferred the taste of water from an iron pot over the taste of water from a copper pot. As the use of these pots increased, so too did the intricacy. During the 19th century, Tetsubin designs went from simple basic iron kettles, to elaborately engraved masterpieces.

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