Though Japan today has become one of the world's most industrialized, mechanized, and computerized nations, it still boasts one of the world's richest and most fascinating ceramic traditions.
Two of the country's most remarkable styles of pottery are Shino and Oribe, both originating in ancient Mino Province (modern-day Gifu Prefecture) from the time of Japan's artistic "renaissance" in the late sixteenth century.
Oribe ware is one of the most startling and innovative expressions not only of this period but of all Japanese pottery. In a departure from the more refined tea ceremony utensils that represent the meditative aspect of the ceremony, Oribe ware has a more earthy feel, with its layering of naturally occurring colors: a piece might be made of red and white clay, with green glaze over the white portion, and line decorations done in iron over a coat of white slip on the red part. This ware is named for Furuta Oribe, who in his time was the undisputed master of the tea ceremony and who, it is said, commissioned certain kilns to make these pots after his own designs.
Likewise, the tea ceremony ware known as Shino is widely considered to have its own unparalleled kind of beauty. With its thick, white, feldspathic glaze and stylized but seemingly spontaneous decoration in iron underglaze, it has an unmistakable sense of softness and naturalness.
Both Shino and Oribe are still being made today, but in many cases it is the older examples that are most striking. Classic Stoneware of Japan brings together these early great pieces with important newer work, in 150 color photographs, and outlines each ware in informative essays - written by two noted authorities - on each tradition's history and techniques.
Classic Stoneware of Japan offers a comprehensive visual survey and a basic understanding of these traditions' glazes, processes, shapes and decoration. The reader comes away with a clear idea of the essence of these wares and an ability to instantly recognize either. It will be invaluable for anyone interested in pottery, design or art.
Classic Stoneware of Japan is the combined edition of two earlier volumes, Shino and Oribe, originally published independently in the series Famous Ceramics of Japan. This new, combined edition is a fascinating guide to these enduring and vital art forms.