History and culture of Japanese ceramics:焼き物

Hagi ware:萩焼

March 2, 2008 5:28 PM   Hagi ware : 萩焼



約400年前、豊臣秀吉と朝鮮半島に渡った毛利輝元が、現地の陶工 李勺光(りしゃっこう)、李敬(りけい)の兄弟を伴って帰国したことから萩焼の歴史が始まります。







The history of Hagi ware :


Approximately 400 years ago, Mori Terumoto, met two Korean potters, Li Sukkwang and Sukkwang's brother Li Kyong in Korea during Toyotomi Hideyoshi's foreign campaign.
After the campaign, the Li brothers decided to accompany Mori Terumoto when he returned to Japan.

The brothers' move became the cornerstone of the history of the Hagi ware.

When the Mori clan moved their castle to the city of Hagi, the potters moved to the new city and with the lord's approval, Li Sukkwang established the first kilns for the clan.
Later, Li Kyong inherited kiln's that his brother established and received the name "Saka-Koraizaemon" from the clan lord.

The name "Saka-Koraizaemon" has been inherited by each generation of master potters.

The early forms and glazes used in Hagi wares are similar to those found in Korea during the Yi Dynasty.
Over time, influenced by the forms of Raku ware and the development of new glazes, unique and independent forms of Hagi ware were created.

Unique features of Hagi ware :

The softness of the clay and the ability to absorb water are the few characteristics unique to Hagi ware.

Hagi ware is fired at low temperatures for long periods of time.
As a result the clay, not completely solidified resulting in a soft appearance with strong moist elements in every piece.

In addition, the wares can absorb liquid easily every time sake or tea is consumed, evolving the surface of the glaze every time the piece is used.

This unique phenomena is known as " HAGI no NANA BAKE" (translated as the seven metamorphoses of Hagi ware).

In tea ceremony, the same unique change in the appearance from use is known as "CHA-NARE" and is highly prized among tea masters.

Hagi ware is known for its simple and undecorated appearance.

Unlike porcelains, Hagi ware is rarely painted,instead the unique effects resulting from the clay, glazes, and imprinted effects from the tools are concentrated.




There is a unique style of pottery in Hagi ware, known as Oni Hagi.

The style is found in earlier examples of Hagi ware where the technique was developed and used for simpler works, there are few examples where the technique of Oni Hagi was used.
( Although the word "ONI" is translated as demon or ogre, the term is using the rough energy connected with "Oni" or demons or ogres and "ONIHAGI" are pieces containing rough characteristics or that energy is imbued in the piece.)

Since the HAIDO (the base clay for pottery) contains large amounts of iron, much skill and technique is needed to successfully create each piece.

No mistakes are allowed for each piece.


Due to the coarse clay that is used in Hagi ware, it is possible that the piece may leak while being used.

The leaking can be controlled by using FUNORI or OMOYU, two traditional and natural techniques used to control leaking of Japanese pottery.

* FUNORI : seaweed that is boiled in hot water.

*OMOYU: White rice is boiled to a point where the rice is near a paste-like form.

If concerned that the smell of seaweed or rice would stick to the pottery, strong coffee or tea can resolve the smell.

First, dry the teabowl or ware completely.

When the teabowl or piece dries, pour strong coffee or tea in the teabowl or piece and leave it for approximately half a day to one day.

After leaving the teabowl or piece containing the strong coffee or tea for nearly half a day to one day, discard the strong coffee or tea and wash the vessel in cold water.

After washing the teabowl or piece, the piece or teabowl should be left to air dry completely.

If the teabowl or ware continues to leak, repeat the process until the leak stops.

Usually, after repeating the process 1 to 2 times, the leak should stop.

Another tip on waterproofing your piece is to dry the ware completely.

Although HAGI ware may require time and effort to make sure that piece does not leak any liquid.

If care is used, then the piece can last for a lifetime.





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