Kyusetsu MIWA XI
Hagi ceramics are typically formed on a kickwheel from porous clays and finished with colored slips (liquified clay) and glazes. Hagi ware is finished through the firing process in a noborigama, or multi-chambered climbing kiln. The porousness of Hagi clay typically prevents the pot and glaze from reaching full maturation, which allows moisture to permeate the glaze and gradually alter the pottery’s appearance. These changing and evolving properties of Hagi ware are known as “The Seven Faces of Hagi.” Hagi potters are famed for their white (shiro) glazes, so this pottery is often called Shiro-hagi ware. The white glaze here is shino, said to be the first white glaze used in Japanese ceramics. A thick application is called yuzuhada (lemon peel). On both of the Miwa vases on view here the glaze was applied over already colored and fired pieces, which were then fired again. The square vase was decorated first with a dark red slip. After the first firing, the shoulder was loosely painted with wax, which repels the glaze. Penn State potter Kenneth Beittel, who acquired this piece in Japan in 1967, admired the way the “thick, curdled Shino glaze breaks and crawls back to reveal the base clay and the corner with the dark slip. This stiff glaze has solidified just on the verge of fusing, like water transformed suddenly into ice.” Beittel also drew attention to the “perfect arches” of the potter’s prints—two fingers on one side and a thumb on the other, left where the potter held the vase as he dipped or ladled the glaze over it. These signify the individual craftsmanship central to the mingei (folk craft) aesthetic.
Palmer Museum of Art, The Pennsylvania State University.
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Shiro Hagi stoneware; diameter: 10-3/8 x 4 in. (26.4 x 10.2 cm)