Friday, September 12, 2008

A Test In the Art of Edo Style

If there is a buncheong tea bowl style that is most stereotypical of Korea, the Edo (Ido or Jung Ho) style is it. It is unknown when exactly this Korean tea bowl style first emerged although people speculate that it must have appeared around the late 1500s or early 1600s. Some of the most expensive bowls in the world are Edo bowls from the 1600s.

The Edo style tea bowl is distinguished by its distinct shape. This shape allows for hands to easily and gracefully cup the sides of the bowl. Its rim and main body are such to allow the tea inside to gently and ever so softly depart from the shallows of the bowl embracing the tongue and mouth like a warm hug from a loving friend.

The Edo style is also characterized by its Edo clay. Good Edo clay should resonate a pinkish-orange glow like that of a loquat fruit. This clay is only found in the southern kilns of Korea. Like watching the sun rise slowly on a slightly overcast morning, its affect is profound yet subtle.

The glazing style of Edo tea bowls also define its style. The body of the bowl should be thinly glazed so as to allow for many small cracks. These cracks in the glaze allow the Edo clay beneath to breathe, thereby influencing the taste of the tea. The many delicate cracks help remove the harsh edges from the sometimes overwhelmingly bitter powdered tea., softening it.

The foot of a Edo bowl is undoubtedly unique. It displays a technique referred to as 'the skin of the Mae Hwa'. The Mae Hwa is a flowering tree with wondrous white flowers, it is the first to blossom in the Spring in Korea (click on this link to see a post featuring the falling Mae Hwa). This technique leaves thick white blobs of glaze barely covering exposed clay around the foot. It should look as though the foot is covered in flowering branches of Mae Hwa in the early spring.

Overall, the Edo style tea bowl, perhaps more than any other style of tea bowl, exudes naturalness, safety, and calm. For these reasons this style is highly prized by the Japanese, a perfect fit in the tranquility of a Japanese tea hut.

Just like the post on Gimhae style, these three bowls pictured are by three different living artists. Each bowl contains its own beauty, a part of the artist who made them. Two of these bowls were made by ceramic masters and are worth a ridiculous amount of money, the other by a younger, less experienced, but extremely popular artist is worth much less.

So again, just like with the post on Gimhae style, one thought to test your ability to discern valuable Edo tea bowls.

Instead of guessing which bowls are the expensive ones, today you will guess as to which bowl is the least valuable. Can you guess as to which bowl is made by the young artist? Why do you think its the least expensive of the three?

And just as before, Which is your favorite out of the three? Why do you like that one?

One will post a reply in a week or so. It was so interesting to read your responses on Gimhae style, so please, let it rip. Remember, it's just for fun!

The three bowls pictured together are from left to right: #1, #2, #3






Brent said...

This is a complete guess, but I think #1 is by the young artist. After staring at these photos, it looks like the glaze isn't quite as thin or delicate in the first bowl as in the other two. The foot of #3 stands out as different from the other two as well (more uniform), but I'm still betting on #1. :)

I think my favorite is the third bowl. The glaze looks incredible with it's subtle color changes and tiny cracks.

Anyway, I'm probably wrong, but it will be fun to find out. Thanks for this post!

geneviève meylan said...

very interesting !
I prefer number 3 for what I can see :
Number 1 : I like the rosa glaze on the lip of the bowl but it seems haevely than the 2 others , so I think number one is from the yougest ceramist ...but it quite difficult !

Number 2 and 3 have quite a movement in their shapes and I like that. number one is more static .
Just for fun !

Anonymous said...

My guess would be the same as Brent's-- that the first one is the young artist's bowl. It's beautiful, but has more of a gray colour than the glowing pink of the other two, and the glazing technique on the bottom looks slightly less-perfected.
The third is also my favourite, because of the delicacy of the pink colour, and the five spots inside that were left without glaze... but it was a tough call.

toki said...

How could an older woman #3 youth shine so much brighter then a young man #1 passion? This could be interesting.... Thanks again for your new test : ) Keep them coming please. Toki

TeaMasters said...

1 week already! Before I read your explanation, here are my thoughts:

1. Very simple and natural, like the pricey Gimhae bowl in your previous contest. I guess it comes from an old master.

2. The size of the foot seems overblown. And instead of a meihua pattern at the foot and another for the body, there seems to be an intermediate pattern between the foot and the top of the bowl. Looks like a try to break some rules. Probably a young artist would try that.
I also rather don't like the obvious pattern inside the bowl.

3. Elegant like 1, but the colors seem warmer. My preferred bowl.

Thanks for this article and making learning more interesting like this! Sorry for the late answer. Now I'm off to see the results. Exciting!