500 bowls, Japanese and Chinese ceramics

I have finished making the first 500 or so bowls for this next firing.

I have also figured out what I am doing. I mean that in the bigger sense of the meaning. I have been listening to a very long series on Chinese art as I throw everyday. I think it is about 32 or so hours starting at the Xia period up through to the Ching. Of course Confucius and  Laozi figure large and define many aspects of what is striven for in Chinese ceramics. It has long been my belief that one of the main clash points of trying to understand Japan has been the Japanese propensity to reject certain strains of rationality. It could be stated that Japan can be more easily understood through lenses of emotion, of tribal hues. This notion doesn’t excite people deeply steeped in rational, scientific philosophies but I am not alone in thinking this way. Interestingly people who sing the multicultural song seem to most strongly reject the idea that the Japanese have a distinct way of seeing. I  think the Chinese bent toward rationality and ‘reason’ make Chinese art, philosophy and intention much easier for ‘Westerners’ to grasp, grok and sympathize with. The Japanese, in many aspects although not all, live in an area that is very distant from this kind of order. It is far more governed by feelings, intuition and what I will call natural balance. Natural balance as opposed to rational balance. This is what brings me to my realization. Japanese ceramics, insofar as the traditional styles are concerned, strive for the natural balance of materials, shape and how these elements interact with the firing. The analogy I would use is of a tree. Trees don’t grow balanced, they achieve balance by sending out branches that counteract imbalance. That is to say if one side is too heavy, the tree will grow a branch that will help it achieve balance. Japanese seem to appreciate this ‘natural’ balance and while not reject rational balance privilege natural over rational balance.

Just a thought.


About togeii

I have lived in Japan for 19 years doing ceramics almost the whole time. I have a wood burning noborigama and a long snake kiln.. I
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1 Response to 500 bowls, Japanese and Chinese ceramics

  1. something to consider I like the analogy of the tree it helps to see the bigger picture. Especially if you try to consider all of Japanese ceramics there is always something to help balance the extreme or the ultra traditional

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