Sunday, July 20, 2008

A Test In the Art of Gimhae Style

Gimhae is a famous tea city in Korea with deep tea roots. It is here where most Koreans believe tea was first brought to Korea. Nowadays, Jukro Cha, a special variety of green tea that is said to have originated from the first tea brought to Korea, is still consumed.

The gimhae tea bowl style originated in the kilns surrounding this city in the 1600s. This style was much sought after by the Japanese tea masters around that time. Creamy pale cracked glaze over soft pinkish clay. Outer sidewalls of the bowl etched in a crisscrossing pattern imitating wind-blown grasses and reeds. Its foot composed of four notched out pieces arranged in a cross providing stability to the bowl.

Many Korean ceramicists attempt this famous style. The three beautiful bowls pictured are by three different living artists. Each bowl carries with it certain characteristics of the artist who made them. Each is, in and of themselves, beautiful examples of this style. And each holds merit in its individual beauty, but one of these bowls is worth more than a new car!

Just for fun one thought that one would test your ability to discern valuable ceramics.

Can you guess as to which bowl is the over-the-top expensive gimhae style chawan? What do you think makes it is the most valued?

All monetary judgments aside, which is your favorite out of the three? Why do you like that one?
Please don't be shy now, its just for fun!

From left to right: #1, #2, #3

Number One...

Number Two...

Number Three...

One will post the answer as to which is the breakin-the-bank expensive gimhae bowl in a few days.

Looking forward to hearing your opinions on these splendid pieces of art.



Trent said...

I definitely like 3 the best, and even though the foot isn't a perfectly straight cross, I think it's the expensive one.

Tuo Cha Tea said...

The texture of Number One is very nice, I like this one most.

toki said...

All 3 are beautiful! Number one definitely has all the characteristics of a beautiful bowl, eg: The thick drop-like glaze on the outside showing the base clay, the nice cracked pale pink glaze of the inside and the wabi finishing at the bottom tip of the bowl.... But Number 3 has a signature... and the dropping glaze style of the interior is very different. Although I think the color changes of overall glaze is not as harmony as the others : P

Also have you tried the bamboo dew tea? I know they are yancha green tea growing in the shade of bamboo forest, fed by bamboo dew. How poetic!

ps. thank you very much, just got it today : )

TeaMasters said...

When I look at number 3 (the outside in the first picture), I don't see a bowl, but the forest, wind and blown grass. This one is, for me, the essence of what you described in your introduction. Also, it is the only one to have pink color appearing subtly on the surface.

Thanks for sharing and providing us this comparison.

geneviève meylan said...

very interesting ! you have a great idee !
I prefer number 0ne because of the crakled glaze thant retact from itsel and the texture very milky.But for the most expensive one I think it is number 3 : the firing may be with reduce atmosphere ( the clay is black ) in a wood kiln because the glaze is becoming pink on a side and i think it makes more value to that piece.
..... This one have also a great energy, a little wild ,as Stephan has said on his comment.

Anonymous said...

Lovely bowls. I like #3


FamilyAndTea said...

As for aesthetics, I would prefer to drink from number one or two. The glaze on number three is so thin that I cannot appreciate its application, though I realize that this style is popular in southeast Asia. I have a similar bowl that I don't use very often. If I were to choose one to purchase, I would choose number two. Number two has the patina of a well worn glaze, whether it is or not, and though this makes it seem rustic and worn, the finely planned parallel lines in the glaze lend it an elegant balance of, dare I say it, sabi, yet wabi. Hehe, nice bowls.

Anonymous said...

I prefer number 2, for the light color of the glaze, the subtle flaring of the rim, the symmetry of the feet, and the glaze on the inside is less crackled than bowl #1. I think #3 looks more artistic, and #1 looks older. I would guess #3 is the most expensive one.

Michel said...

I'm for number one,

It has for me a lightness of expression.
Although I guess number Three costs more.

beautifull all the same

Matt said...


Bamboo Dew Tea is actually just a poetic name for green tea in Korea and is usually used in that way to just describe plantation or wild grown green tea...

But one can't recall trying some of the REAL Bamboo tea.


Thanks for your wonderful commentary. One really enjoyed what you had to say.


Soïwatter said...

Yesterday, I enjoyed my first Korean tea. A jukro cha, but not green. A red tea rather close to a Qimen Mao Feng.

And this remembered me one of the first posts I red on your blog, with these wonderful tea bowl. I prefer the third one with the twisting shape of its foot. With its gradation of colour, from white to pink, it seems to have more suffered the fire, and it gives him more personality.

The tea was an amazing experience. A round, thick and long liquor, with a heavy taste of cocoa, of vanilla and a hint of candied fruit... It's such a pity that Korean teas are so hard to find in France, because this tea was quite simply wonderful.

Matt said...


That bowl was quite a popular one. One really enjoys it too.

The tea you mentioned is probably a semi oxidized tea. Some of these teas have excellent deep flavours and tones. One agrees that it is too bad that there aren't so many good Korean teas available for the international market.

Glad you enjoyed the tea and the bowl.