Hamada Shoji (1894-1978)

Flat molded bottle
Nuka and tenmoku glazes over ochre slip
1960-1975
17.5 x 20 x 11 cm
6 ⅞ x 7⅞ x 4⅜ inches
Box signed and sealed by Hamada
This unusual form was a Hamada original, and one not so frequently seen. The earliest example of which we are aware is presented as Plate 129 in Shoji Hamada (Soetsu Yanagi, editor, 1966, Tokyo: Asahi Shimbun). It is dated 1960. Another of the same form is visible in the background of photos in S. Peterson’s 1974 book. We have seen but few other examples of this compelling form, with its nearly square base, sides tapering and major faces expanding as they rise to the shoulders, and hand-formed neck and mouth.

Hamada finished this vase in two of his favored glazes, using a technique that consistently produced excellent patterns of overlapping bands of color. After biscuit firing in yellow ochre slip, Hamada often dipped or poured vessels with nuka (named for its use of rice straw ash, though it also requires wood ash and stone), and tenmoku (red stone and wood ash) glazes. When fired, this technique provides three principal layers of color: creamy, textured white where the nuka predominates; a wide range of mottled grayish-green color where nuka and tenmoku overlap at different thicknesses; and finally, the glossy, often deep-green-speckled black tenmoku. Here the different colors have great clarity, with the middle layers moderating and red clay base framing the leap from matte white to glossy black-green.
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