Japanese Vintage Pottery Daruma

Vintage Japanese Raku-yaki Sculpture of Daruma | Bodhidharma


Age:Mid 20th Century

Descriptive qualities& condition:

Dimensions: 3-0” dia x 4-3/4”h

Shown is a Silky light texture Raku grey/charcoal color clay figurine in the form of Zen Patriarch Daruma and from the Okayama prefecture. This vintage, unglazed Okimono, ('Okimono' is a Japanese term meaning 'ornament for display, objet d'art, or decorative object', typically displayed in a tokonoma alcove, a Buddhist altar or table display), details a seated figure of Daruma during his 9 years of continuous meditation with a distinctive sober and intense face with fully opened eyes, expressive eyebrows and oversized hoop earrings (represents the power of the deities). He is holding a Hossu (fly whisk) over his right shoulder which is a sign of authority, with his arms and hands hidden under his distinctive hooded robe with natural appearing folds. The piece is unsigned.

Bodhidharma is regarded as the chief of the Six Patriarchs of Buddhism. He teaches that perfection must be sought inward through meditation rather than through observances. In honor of Daruma, to this day, such figures are part of a display at the tea ceremony carried out in Zen monasteries throughout Japan. This type of lead-based pottery aids in expressive religious sculptures that are typically hand-shaped rather than thrown. Because of the variables involved in firing the clay, the objects can naturally show the desired range of natural coloration and surface effects, which are desired by many studio potters. 

Condition: Very good condition with a small textural surface flaw (on his toe/foot) from the sculpting and firing process. It is in a well-preserved condition commensurate with age and use.

HISTORICAL NOTE: Bizen Pottery traces its long history back to Sueki Pottery (earthenware fired with no glaze) in the Tumulus Period. From the Heian Period to the early Kamakura Period, potters started to produce more practical and durable wares for everyday use. This is believed to be the beginning of Bizen Pottery.

Bizen Pottery is one of the six famous ancient medieval pottery styles in Japan, including Seto, Tokoname, Tamba, Shigaraki, and Echizen. It is also known as "Imbe Pottery" based on the name of the area. Bizen Pottery traces its long history back to Sueki Pottery (earthenware fired with no glaze) in the Tumulus Period. From the Heian Period to the early Kamakura Period, potters started to produce more practical and durable wares for everyday use. This is believed to be the beginning of Bizen Pottery.

The beauty of Bizen Pottery is in its unadorned simplicity. Its unglazed austere appearance caught the attention and admiration of tea ceremony masters in Sakai and Kyoto. In the Momoyama Period, a number of masterpiece tea bowls were created.