The Kura - Japanese Art Treasures

Robert Mangold has been working with Japanese antiques since 1995 with an emphasis on ceramics, Paintings, Armour and Buddhist furniture.

Chawan Tea Bowl by Otagaki Rengetsu

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Directory: Archives: Regional Art: Asian: Japanese: Pre 1900: Item # 1450788

Please refer to our stock # TCR8203 when inquiring.
The Kura
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817-2 Kannonji Monzen-cho
Kamigyo-ku Kyoto 602-8385
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A Raku style coil and pinch formed Chawan engraved with a poem by Otagaki Rengetsu enclosed in an old fine quality kiri-wood box annotated by a tea master in Showa 32 (1957), the bowl named Kiju (Gift of the Season). The bowl is hand made, not formed on a wheel, and we can see clearly that she is not a professionally trained potter. The poem engraved into the sides, wrapping entirely around the bowl, reads: Metsuurashiki hito no tame ni to agemaki ga sunadori ki tsuru mo fushitsukafuna followed by her signature and the age 80. Although a known celebratory poem by her I have never found an appropriate translation. It seems to bow slightly, in gratitude for some good fortune perhaps, as the poem suggests. The Chawan is 13 x 12 x 10 cm (roughly 5 inches diameter, 4 inches tall) and is in excellent condition.
Otagaki Rengetsu was born into a samurai family, she was adopted into the Otagaki family soon after birth, and served as a lady in waiting in Kameoka Castle in her formative years, where she received an education worthy of a Lady of means. Reputed to be incredibly beautiful, she was married and bore three children; however her husband and all children died before she was twenty. Remarried she bore another daughter, however that child too perished and her husband died while she was just 32. Inconsolable, she cut off her hair to join the nunnery at Chion-in Temple, where she renounced the world and received the name Rengetsu (Lotus Moon). However this was not the end, but only the beginning of a career as artist and poet which would propel her to the top of the 19th century Japan literati art world.