Sunday, August 9, 2009

An Erabo Style Tea bowl by Master Jung Jum Gyo

Behind a large tea dealer shop in Daegu, South Korea is gallery in a hanok (traditional Korean House), behind the gallery in this house is a tea room. This tea room, tranquil and natural, has shelves filled with priceless erabo style tea bowls by Master Jung Jum Gyo.

This bowl in particular draws one in...

Most eye-catching is its very natural, asymmetrical form. Viewed from the side, this deviation is made even more apparent because of the bowls steep side walls. Steep side walls are a characteristic of this bowl's 'tong hyung' shape which is not so common among erabo pieces. This bowl's beauty is akin to an old leaning tree.

Viewed from above, the warped shape of its 'san ak hyung' rim (translates to 'mountain edge rim'), which circumnavigates the most superior edge, resembles the outermost bark of an old tree stump.

The rough, rocky erabo style clay under such shinny gloss only adds another layer of beauty to this piece. Holding the piece in ones hands leaves a sensation of rocky clay under soft gloss that one will not soon forget. The roughness of the clay and form compliments and augments the beauty of the elegant lustrous gloss which shimmers thick over such ruggedness. Like a rain soaked, old rugged stump shimmering under the bright beams of the setting sun, penetrating through the branches and shadows of the underbrush.

The bowl seems to teeter on its grounding 'dal paeng e' style foot (snail foot). The foot is just anchoring enough as not to take away from the uneven form of the piece.

The effort of this bowls foot to resolve the conflict of balance and imbalance, symmetry and asymmetry, roughness and elegance is challaged by the small details found on the foot.

The prominent swirling, smooth, centering, grounding movements which the snail foot conveys is undercut by one large crack that runs though such deliberate attempts at balance- the final act of clay and kiln, beyond the touch of man.



Anonymous said...

You seem to have a talent for appraising some fine art as well as tea. I'd like to see the two blended together where you might talk a little about how tea tastes in a vessel like this. --Jason

Matt said...


One has drank tea out of many of the tea bowls pictured on this blog but has not documented the experience. Often the tea was consumed in the company of others and documenting in detail such an experience would truly take away from the moment.

One did not have the opportunity to drink matcha from this piece by Jum Jung Gyo. Judging by its rim and sidewall, this bowl would have allowed for a quick and full coating of matcha in the throat and tongue. The high gloss finish on the inside would suggest a firm, clean finish in the mouth.

Then again, some tea bowls have been known to deceive.

Thanks again for your kind words.


sconesntea said...

this tea bowl is amazing. i've always liked the traditional ones more than the modern.

Matt said...


Completely agree with you. Although there is much beauty to be found in the new styles or 'fusion' styles as well.

Glad you enjoyed it.


SconesNTea said...

Yes fusion style looks amazing too.