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Ki-Seto Tea Bowl

Craft Artist
Yu Nishioka
Ena, Gifu Prefecture
Φ113 × H73mm

Tackling challenges

The gentle pale yellow surface of this tea bowl calls to mind a piece of abura-age, a kind of soft fried tofu, and indeed is often called “aburage-de” – an ideal expression for this “Ki-Seto Tea Bowl” by Yu Nishioka. With its thin base, thinly applied glaze, softly splashed green of the modest decorative “tanpan” green copper, and koge scorch marks visible on the kodai (foot) of the bowl as proof that it has been well fired, this exquisite bowl has a well-balanced beauty.

Ki-Seto ware, a style of ceramics which originated in Mino during the Momoyama period (1573-1603), is made by applying an ash glaze to the base in oxidation firing. It is considered extremely difficult to successfully bring out the texture of aburage-de; even with the utmost attention to the thickness of the base and glaze, firing temperature, humidity, and other factors, this texture can only be achieved in a limited area within the kiln. Perhaps because of these demanding conditions, few artisans today are taking on the challenge of producing genuine Ki-Seto works. For Yu, however, that complexity and challenge is precisely the reason for his fascination with ceramic making. His works are now attracting a great deal of attention as he works day and night in pursuit of the ideal expression of Ki-Seto ware.