抹茶碗 (Tokugawa-era Teabowl)

Designer: Unknown | Carver: David Bull | Printer: Rei

Paper size: 18cm by 18cm | Enlargement | Shipping Code: [M] ? | Currency: $ / £ /

Price: $ 80.00£ 64.75€ 73.75

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Description: (from Dave’s notes) These days we are so flooded with imagery - and beautiful full-colour realistic imagery - that we tend to forget that most of our ancestors lived in a world where ‘illustrations’ were rare. In a world without photography and the ability to print and distribute photographic images, there was simply no way to ‘see’ something at a distance; if you had no chance to see the real thing, you simply had to try and imagine what it looked like.

Perhaps - just for example - you had an interest in old tea ceremony objects; you were a connoisseur of tea bowls, and enjoyed seeing them whenever you had a chance. You had heard about the famous old bowls in the Tokugawa collection, but of course you could never actually see what they were like. In an era before the invention of photography, you were simply out of luck, and that was that. But as the country opened up after the Meiji Restoration, the hugely expanding thirst for knowledge meant that this situation became intolerable - a way had to be found to provide realistic illustrations. So it was during that era that publishers found ways to respond to these demands by pushing the boundaries of what had previously been considered possible with the woodblock technique. The classical ukiyo-e prints had been made with flat, transparent colour, and with no attempt at ‘modelling’ of the objects depicted, but with wide use of the bokashi shading technique, combined with a great increase in the number of impressions taken from the blocks, much more realistic images could be produced.

The image you see here is taken a set of books, “Encyclopedia of the Arts of Japan”, which illustrated a wide range of items from ancient times up to the end of the feudal era. This tea ceremony bowl is illustrated in two views, the general view you see here, and an illustration from the underside of the bowl which helps the viewers to see the out-of-round shape and the important maker’s markings. It is all so beautifully done that I am sure it is 99% as good as seeing the real thing!

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