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A pale glazed Kyo-yaki ceramic figurine of a rabbit by Takahashi Dohachi III decorated across the back with a poem by the poet-nun Otagaki Rengetsu.
The poem reads:
Usagira ga Rabbits
gamanoho-iro no kegoromo wa Fur robes the color of cattails...
kamiyo nagara ni ki kae zaru ran. Remain un-changed since the age of Gods.
This was crafted by a professional potter, the brushwork by Rengetsu, much crisper than normal thanks to the smooth surface and higher grade materials at teh Dohachi Kiln. Signed on the rump: 77 year old Rengetsu, the figure bearing the stamp of Takahashi Dohachi III on the base. It is roughly 19 x 13 x 19 cm (7-1/2 x 5 x 7-1/2 inches). There is a chip in the tip of the right ear, otherwise is in excellent original 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.
The Dohachi Kiln was established in Awataguchi by a retainer of Kameyama fief, Takahashi Dohachi I around 1760, and the name Dohachi was brought to the forefront of porcelain and ceramic production by the second generation head of the family who attained an imperial following, and grew to be one of the most famous potters of the Later Edo period to come from Kyoto. Ninnami Dohachi (1783-1855) was born the second son of Takahashi Dohachi I. Following the early death of his older brother he succeeded the family name, opening a kiln in the Gojo-zaka area of Kyoto (at the foot of Kiyomizu temple) in 1814. Well known for research into and perfection of ancient Chinese and Korean forms long held in high esteem in Japan, and at the same time working to expand the family reputation within tea circles. Along with contemporaries Aoki Mokubei and Eiraku Hozen became well known as a master of porcelain as well as Kenzan and Ninsei ware. Over the following decades he would be called to Takamatsu, Satsuma, Kishu and other areas to consult and establish kilns for the Daimyo and Tokugawa families as well as Nishi-Honganji Temple. An exhibition was held at the Suntory Museum in 2014 centering on this artist, and he is also held in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and Kyoto National Museum among many, many others. The third generation (1811-1879) was known as Kachutei Dohachi and continued the work of his father, producing an abundance of Sencha tea ware and other porcelain forms, maintaining the highest of standards and ensuring the family place in the annals of Kyoto ceramics. He was followed by the fourth generation (1845-1897), and his sons Takahashi Dohachi V (1845-1897) who took control of the kiln in 1897 until 1915 when his younger brother Dohachi VI (Kachutei) (1881-1941) continued the business.