Lot 307. A Teabowl Mino ware, Black Oribe type; glazed stoneware, Momoyama period, early 17th century; 3 5/8 in. (9.2 cm.) high; 6 ¼ in. (15.9 cm.) diameter. Estimate: US$60,000 - US$80,000Unsold. © Christie's Images Ltd 2019

The deep teabowl set on a raised circular foot and scraped around the sides with horizontal striations, the side and interior applied with a flecked matte black glaze.

Provenance: Todoroki Takashi (1938-2016), Tokyo.

LiteratureShino to Oribe/ Shino and Oribe (Tokyo: Idemitsu Museum of Arts, 2007), pl. 47.

Exhibited: Idemitsu Museum of Arts, Tokyo, “Shino to Oribe/ Shino and Oribe,” 2007.

Oribe vessels are named for the radical unorthodoxy of the influential warlord and tastemaker Furuta Oribe (1543/44–1615), who had a keen interest in tea culture. So-called Oribe Black type teabowls are entirely black, without painted design, covered in an iron glaze that resembles Black Seto. The chartreuse green of thick tea at the bottom of such a bowl would make a striking contrast with the black glaze. There is a roughly circular depression—a chadamari, or tea pool—in the middle of the interior of the bowl. Only the foot and part of the base of this bowl are left unglazed. Momoyama-period Oribe teabowls have been excavated from sites of several Motoyashiki kilns in Toki City, Gifu Prefecture, active from around 1600 until about 1620. They were destined for the pottery markets in Kyoto, where their distorted forms represented the fresh, original concepts that excited a new generation of modish townsmen. 

The lacquerlike, smooth and glossy black glaze is achieved by a technique known as hikidashi-guro—removing the bowl from the kiln with tongs at the peak of firing and rapidly cooling it. This technique is used only for Black Seto bowls and Oribe Black bowls. The potter emphasized the rim with a thick band of clay. The rim flares outward and is softly rounded so as to be inviting to the lips. The potter threw the bowl on a wheel, and then shaped it into a nearly triangular form with his hands. He gouged a deep mark on one side of the bowl with his spatula.  

The base has a wide, roughly turned, five-sided foot rim and features an impressed mark—two crossed, straight lines. As noted in lot 306, such marks on Oribe bowls are thought to indicate the Kyoto pottery merchant who commissioned the piece. For another Oribe Black type clog-shaped teabowl with the same mark, see Nezu Museum, ed., Shin: Momoyama no Chato / Momoyama Tea Utensils: A New View (Tokyo: Nezu Museum, 2018) Pl. 41.

Christie'sJapanese and Korean Art, New York, 19 March 2019