Since the Meiji period, Mino-yaki has been the customary term for stoneware
and porcelain produced in a large area around the cities of Tajimi and
Toki, in the southeast of Gifu Prefecture. As in neighboring Seto(Aichi
Prefecture), ahi-glazed stoneware in Sanada style, known as Shirashi, was
produced from the 11th century on, followed by unglazed Yamachawan, which
was made in huge quantities. More than 500 kiln sites are documented from
this period. In the subsequent Kamakura period, ceramics production declined
sharply in the Mino region, in contrast to the Seto kilns, which flourished.
It was not until the Muromachi period that kilns were built again, initially
around Toki, then around Tajimi. In these kilns, ceramics were surfaced
with Tenmoku or early Kiseto glazes. The ware strongly resembled Seto ware,
but as archaelogical findings pove, it was produced in quantity even before
the influx of Seto potters fleeing from the Onin Civil War. Starting in
the 15th century, through connections between the local ruling class and
Kyoto, the center of the tea ceremony, tea ceramics began to flourish in
the Mino region. Kiseto glazes, followed by Setoguro, Shino, and Oribe
glazes?regarded as the first independently developed glazes in the history
of Japanese ceramics-were used.
The early Kiseto glazes(yellow Seto) from the Muromachi period are considered
to be attempts to reprode Chinese celadons from the Song dynasty. The composition
of the wood ash feldspar glazes largely resembled that of the celadons;
however, in oxidation instead of the reduction necessary for celadons,
a dull yellow-green was formed. Beginning in the 15th century, this yellow
was consciously developed further, probably to reproduce the then highly
esteemed Chine Ming wares. In the Momoyama period, two types of Kiseto
had emerged. One was Ayame-de Kiseto in a clear yellow, named after the
incised iris design, over which were typical of the period. Simple representations
of plum blossoms, chrysanthemums, and radished were poplar patterns on
thin-walled tea bowls, plates, and bowls. The second type of Kiseto, Aburage-hada,
with its golden brown, matte, slightly grainy surface,owes its name to
its resemblance to baked tofu. Information about its production is no longer
Setoguro(black Seto) was the first black glaze in the history of Japanese
ceramics. An excavated Setoguro bowl has been dated from between 1532 and
1555, and thus is older than the first black raku tea bowl from Kyoto,
dated 1582. the glaze is made from ash and Oni-ita, an iron ore mined near
Mino. During firing, the vessel is removed glowing hot from the kiln after
the glaze has matured, at temperatures above 2192F(1200℃), and is immediately
cooled. This type of glaze is therefore also known as HIkidashi-guro(withdrawn
black). Only tea bowls were fired using this technique. In addition, their
characteristic cylindrical forms were an annovation: previously, Tenmoku
tea bowls with small feet and fired walls were customary.
Shino, as ash glaze with a high proportion of feldspar?the first high-fired
white glaze in Japan?is said to have developed from an opaque white ash
glaze used on Tenmoku tea bowls to replicate porcelain surfaces. The origin
of the name and the date of origin are subject to controversy, although
the early Azuchi-Momoyama period seems likely. Plates and small side dishes(muko-zen)
for the Kaiseki meal during the tea ceremony were also made. In contrast
to pots made in large numbers, from which the tea master randomly selected
a well-executed vessels, careful production of individual pieces became
the norm. Vessels were wheel thrown and often refinished by hand, or they
were press molded. The deformations that are still typical of Japanese
ceramics date back to Shino wares. The surface of the thickly applied,
milky Shino glaze is reffered to as YUzuhada(lemon peel) because of its
appearance. A special clay(moxa clay, Moguza, from Gairome type) and the
damp, ineffiaient Anagama were prerequisites for Shino wares, with their
long firings to relatively low temperatures of 2192F(1200℃).
The best-known types of Shino glaze are:
Muji(no Shiro) Shino: an undercorated white shino covering the entire vessel
in a thick coating of glaze.
E-Shino: “picture Shino”, in which simple patterns were applied to te pot
in Oni-ita and covered with Shino glaze. With E-Shino, underglaze painting
was employed for the first time in Japan.
Nezumi-Shino and Aka-Shino: gray Shino and red Shino; these depend on firing
conditions. The vessel is covered with a layer of Oni-ita slip, then Shino
glaze is applied. In a neutral atmosphere in the Anagama, the slip fires
gray; in oxidation, the slip-coated body snowy white glaze in red-dish
to red “scorch” markes in areas where the glaze was applied more thinly(hi-iro).
Orice ware has its origins in tea ceramics, which were made until 1624
in the style of the tea master Furuta Oribe. Technically, Oribe-yaki required
the Noborigama, which was introduced to Mino in 1597. the first kiln of
this type?the Motoyashiki-gama, with 14 chambers and approximately 78 feet(24m)
in length?the ruins of which may still be seen today, was built by Kato
Kagenobu to resemble the Kishidake kilns of Karatsu. Shiro glaze fired
in Noborigama produced a smooth, white, transparent glaze(Sino-Oribe) that
is considered to have been a prototype for the production of Oribe wares.
Thereafter, green copper glaze on the unusual vessel forms, with their
asymmentrical designs, was typical of Oribe. The expressive Oribe style
was in total contrast to the Wabi aesthetic practiced by the tea masters
up to this time. The bowls and side dishes(mukozen), with their wide range
of forms, are best known.
The main types of oribe are:
Ao-Oribe: green Oribe, with areas of green glaze and Oni-ita underglaze
painting in the areas free of copper glaze.
Narumi-Oribe or Aka-Oribe: composed of white and red clay; the white clay
is covered with green copper glaze, whereas the red clay body is layered
with a white slip design. So-Oribe: a uniformly green-glazed type of ware.
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