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Richard L. Wilson

Japanese family of artists. They were established in Kyoto by the mid-14th century as sword experts in the service of the military aristocracy, for whom they engaged in the decoration, maintenance and connoisseurship of swords. In the late 15th century they emerged as leaders of the machishū, the group of upper-class Kyoto merchants who took over control of the city in the wake of the devastating Ōnin Wars (1466–77). By 1600, however, the power of the machishū had been broken, and many of its members turned their energies to cultural activities. (1) Hon’ami Kōetsu played a prominent role in this movement, and, with the painter Tawaraya Sōtatsu (see Tawaraya Sōtatsu, §1, (i)), he formed the foundation of the school of decorative painting and design later known as Rinpa (see Japan, §VI, 4, (v)). His grandson (2) Hon’ami Kōho continued this tradition.

(b Kyoto...

Article

Mitsuhiko Hasebe

[Fusajirō]

(b Kyoto, March 23, 1883; d Kanagawa, Dec 21, 1959).

Japanese potter, calligrapher and medallist. At an early age he taught himself seal-carving and calligraphy, for which he won a prize in 1904; soon after he became a commercial calligrapher and medallist. In 1915 he had his first experience of decorating pottery at a kiln in the district of Hokuriku. In 1919 he opened an art shop in Tokyo, and in 1920 he founded the Gourmet’s Club on the second floor of the store, serving food in traditional ceramic vessels that he had himself collected. Kitaōji soon began to produce his own pottery, creating forms drawn from studying the vessels that he used for his cuisine. In 1925 he opened the Gourmet’s Club Hoshigaoka Restaurant in Tokyo. In 1926 he established a studio and kiln known as Hoshigaokayō in Kita Kamakura. He often surpassed the classical forms on which his works were based, becoming well known for his simple but original designs. He used red enamels and gold in his work and was influenced by blue-and-white wares and coloured porcelain from the Ming period (...

Article

Karen M. Gerhart

[Ōtagaki Nobu]

(b Kyoto, 1791; d Kyoto, 1875).

Japanese poet, calligrapher, potter and painter. Shortly after her birth, she was adopted by Ōtagaki Mitsuhisa who worked at Chion’in, an important Jōdo (Pure Land) sect temple in Kyoto. In 1798 she was sent to serve at Kameoka Castle in Tanba, where she studied poetry, calligraphy and martial arts. She returned to Kyoto in 1807 and was married to a young samurai named Mochihisa. They had three children, all of whom died shortly after birth; in 1815 Mochihisa also died. In 1819 Nobu remarried, but her second husband died in 1823. After enduring the tragic loss of two husbands and all her children, Nobu, only 33 years old, cut her hair off and became a nun, at which time she adopted the name Rengetsu (‘lotus moon’). She lived with her stepfather, who had also taken vows, near Chion’in. After his death in 1832 Rengetsu began to make pottery, which she then inscribed with her own ...