Otagaki Rengetsu-yaki

Japanese Antique Otagaki Rengetsu-yaki with Poem | Signed

Age:19th Century

Descriptive qualities& condition:

Dimensions: 3-1/8” dia. x 3-0”h

Offered are three rustic, classic stoneware Rengetsu handmade teacups, which are wonderful to the touch and beautifully incised with calligraphy. Each cup shows the same poetic ornamentation, which represents an untranslated poem written by Otagaki Rengetsu, (1791-1875). Research tells us that most pieces were such an irregular shape, Rengetsu had a difficult time painting the poem on the sided of the piece. Also, since the glaze is so thick, it is very hard to decipher the calligraphy. These Oribe-yaki glazed teacups have a cream glaze background, incorporating an olive-green drip glaze just below each rim, wonderfully textured with an unglazed foot ring. Each are classified as a utilitarian design and vary slightly in size because of being hand formed. A signature is incorporated on the side of each piece along side the poem.

Finally, when they were purchased in 1985, we were informed at a Honolulu auction house that their research showed that she once admitted that she was rather poor at making pottery herself, for which most of her pieces were made by her disciples or other helpful potters. The pieces being sold were functional and meant to be used daily for teacups were more prevalent, particularly for daily tea drinking, then are tea bowls that were made for the traditional tea ceremony and considered more valuable.

Vintage Condition: Excellent as originally made. “As is” with no flaws or cracking, from the affects from aging, and retains the exceptional colors and the original craft/workmanship.

NOTE: Regetsu was a Buddhist nun who is widely regarded as one of the greatest Japanese poets of the 19th century. She was adopted at a young age by the Otagaki family, and was said that she didn’t live a happy life because she lost her adoptive father and five brothers from illness. She married, but her husband died soon after. She remarried but lost this husband too from illness after only four years, as well as her young son and three young daughters. She joined the temple Chion-in and became a nun, taking Regetsu (“Lotus Moon”), as her Buddhist name. Her calligraphy, incorporated into her pottery with poems, was sold in the order to make a living and it has been reported that they became very popular and hence she became quite wealthy, even though she continue to have a simple life. She donated a large amount of money during a famine in the 1850’s and devoted herself to supporting the poor late in life.

A word about Oribe ware: (Oribe-yaki), is a classic style of pottery developed by the tea master Furata Oribe, (1544-1615), in the 16th century. Most of it was made in Seto province at the Mino kilns. Oribe ware is one of the most startling and innovative expressions of Japanese ceramics in existence, not only of this period, but of all periods. Oribe ware is recognized having a very earthy feel with its layering of rich, olive-green, copper glaze which is the most recognizable feature.