Horigaratsu Tea Bowl Named Goyō

Organization control number
Place of production
Karatsu ware
Era century
Azuchi Momoyama–Edo period, 16th–17th century
Item shape
Height: 9.4 cm; diameter: 14.2 cm, bottom diameter
Kyushu National Museum
This tea bowl was first shaped using a potter’s wheel. Its bottom flared out from the side of the foot. The wall of the body stands almost vertically and makes a round curve in the mid-body. The wall tapers at the upper half of the body and then flares out around the mouth rim. Then between the mid-body and the rim, the bowl is reshaped by applying a strong force from five directions. The body part, thus warped, allows one to naturally hold the tea bowl with two hands. The bowl has a double foot that was created by dynamically carving the bottom of the foot. On the outer surface of the bowl, seven letters of “x” are engraved with a spatula in thick and bold lines. Tea bowls with these engraved letters are known as horigaratsu ware. Typical horigaratsu ware has “x” marks engraved around the body but they are not painted. In this piece, however, iron paint has been applied with bold brushstrokes over the engraved marks and some of which even reach the rim. Accordingly, this piece is a very rare example of horigaratsu ware. The entire bowl is glazed with grayish feldspar glaze except for the foot. The glaze is not applied uniformly. From the side of the foot to the lower part of the body, the glaze occasionally becomes thick and curly like that of a fish skin. The horigaratsu tea bowls represent the karatsu tea bowl fired in the Kishidake Handokame kiln, which is the oldest kiln in Karatsu. The ones with iron paint are also valuable for studies of painted Karatsu ware. It is also noteworthy that this tea bowl has features in common with the Setoguro and Shino tea bowls, both being major Momoyama style. This contributes to the studies about the Momoyama period (1573–1603) tea ceremony. Horigaratsu ware tea bowls are very large and have a powerful style like this piece. In a strange twist of fate, this resulted in them not being recognized as tea bowls from the Edo period and were used as tableware. It was not until the modern times that their original usage as tea bowls was again recognized and appreciated.