Clog-Shaped Teabowl with Design of Plum Blossoms and Geometric Patterns

Period: Momoyama period (1573–1615)

Date: early 17th century

Culture: Japan

Medium: Stoneware with iron-black glaze (Mino ware, black Oribe type)

Dimensions: H. 3 in. (7.6 cm); W. 5 5/8 in. (14.3 cm); Diam. of foot 12 1/4 in. (5.7 cm)

Classification: Ceramics

Credit Line: Dr. and Mrs. Roger G. Gerry Collection, Bequest of Dr. and Mrs. Roger G. Gerry, 2000

Accession Number: 2002.447.28


Tea bowls in the Oribe style were often shaped something like ancient clogs and described as kutsugata, or "clog-shaped." After a round tea bowl had been formed on the wheel, it was indented in several places, destroying the circular shape and producing an asymmetrical form. The exterior surface of the bowl was then worked with a spatula to make it rough and uneven. Flamboyant distortions and irregularities of this type characterize the aesthetics of Oribe ware.
This tea bowl's vital, organic-seeming form is paired with vigorous surface design. The rich iron-black glaze that covers most of the bowl frames the patterns in the white areas. Inside the bowl, each diamond-shaped compartment of the grid is filled with either the representational depiction of a flower or a stylized motif resembling a plum blossom (five dots encircling a sixth). On the exterior, various geometric patterns are boldly depicted in forceful black wash. Oribe ware that is mostly glazed in iron black and carries designs in black on the reserved white ground, such as this tea bowl, is called Black Oribe (kuro-oribe); Oribe ware that is entirely glazed in iron black is known as Oribe Black (oribeguro).