美濃桃山陶の聖地・可児 The center of Momoyama period Mino ware
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The center of Momoyama period Mino ware
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Momoyama-period Mino ware was produced more than 400 years ago, flourishing in the eastern part of Mino Province, particularly around what is now Kani City in Gifu Prefecture. However, for a long time, it was believed that these works had been fired in Seto district of Aichi Prefecture, which explains why the word ‘seto’ appears in the names of the ‘Kiseto’ [yellow Seto] and ‘Setoguro’ [black Seto] styles of Mino ware. The truth of their origins remained unknown until 1930 when the potter, ARAKAWA Toyozō, excavated a shard of Shino ware decorated with a bamboo shoot motif from the site of an ancient kiln at Mutabora in Kukuri Ōgaya, Kani City.

Momoyama-period Mino ware is characterized by the rich coloring displayed in its motifs and glazes. At the time, it represented the very latest in potting technique that was only achieved by the potters of Momoyama-period Mino. These potters catered to the tastes of the users when producing ceramic utensils for the tea ceremony, which was reaching the peak of its popularity at around this time.

Kiseto ware is a refined style of pottery, decorated with floral motifs, etc. that have been engraved in the body below a yellow glaze, before accents are added using green or brown (iron glaze). Setoguro ware mainly refers to tea bowls with a jet-black glaze. This black is achieved by removing the work from the kiln mid-firing and cooling it rapidly. These tea bowls are typical of the subdued taste known in Japanese as ‘wabi’.

Shino ware employs a pure white feldspar glaze with an underglaze motif applied using iron oxide. Shino ware was the first pottery in Japan to employ a pure white glaze, resembling silk. The freehand motifs were applied using a brush.

A scraping technique was utilized to create works with a pattern in white and brown that are known as Nezumi-shino (mouse-grey-shino) ware. First an iron glaze is applied over the entire surface, then the areas around the pattern are scraped away, allowing the white of the clay to show through.

Oribe ware introduced a green glaze to the decoration. It combined all the colors employed after Kiseto, while skillfully adding the patterns that were popular in Kyōto at the time. Oribe ware embodies the vivid beauty of form that was so typical of the Momoyama period.
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