Friday, January 22, 2010

A Grey & White Lee Kang Hyo Buncheong Style Tea Bowl

The look and feel of this grey and white tea bowl is wonderfully reflected under the dim lights of this traditional Korean home.

This tea bowl reflects the zen mind. Its main colour is grey. In Korea grey holds special meaning, it is the colourless colour and at the same time it is the colour of all colours mixed, the colour of nothingness, the colour of zen. All the monks in Korea wear grey coloured robes, even the highest level monks. This was once the colour all monks of China wore after the first century A.D. This is because grey reflects the "don't know", zen mind. It also is the colour of ashes- a reminder of reincarnation.

This grey bowl reflects some of this meaning. Its dull grey colour is made vibrant by its thick shiny gloss. This gloss is beautifully apparent at the bowls foot where blobs pool creating an opaque-white among the spiralling finish. These blobs are also quite noticeable on the grey outer sidewall of the bowl where they share space with little gashes and stones.

The main focal point of this bowl is the thick gloopy white gye yal (brushstroke) located inside the bowl. This thick white stroke is apparently done in a spontaneous moment of zen where the potter uses what ever materials he can find nearby and lays one on the tea bowl. This gye yal is quite thick. Of particular note is the separate glob that splattered away from the main stroke pictured on the right side) of the bowl. This splatter is balanced coincidentally by the end spot on the other side of the bowl(pictured on the left side). Beautiful.

The shallow of the bowl stands out as it remains grey with the 5 unglazed marks from the stand in the kiln. In the center of the gye yal it creates a beautifully natural affect.

The look of this bowl with tea in it is astonishing as the exuberance of the green froth is amplified by the thick white of the gye yal. The feel of the bowl in your hands is a calming rough under thick gloss.

Drinking tea from its innards, you can taste a little bit of zen.



Petr said...

Wonderful bowl and perceptive characterization. Buncheong is my favorite Korean style. Actually the glaze itself has a quality I call "nothing special" a it is very "soundless". And I thing it is not only because of the look but also because of the nature of that kind of glazes. Usually the composition of these glazes is very simple. Only feldspar, clay and the basic parts of nature. But sometimes easiest things are most difficult to achieve. Like here-The Korean buncheog bowls are so simple, that is almost imposible to imitate them.

Matt said...


"Nothingness", "Soundlessness", and "Simplicity".

Sounds like this bowl truely embodies the mind of zen- even down to its material parts, and production. Even the ash used in this buncheong bowl is of the same materials that colour the grey robes of Korean monks.

There is much beauty in simplicity. A beauty that this bowl contains within.

Your comments are always much appreciated and offer a valuable look- the opinion of the potter. Thanks so much for your commentary.