The Glazing of Seto(Akazu) Ware
In the early Heian Era, early examples of pottery fired in the cavern kilns as tableware for Heian nobility had only half of their surface covered in a natural glaze consisting of melted ash.
From the early Kamakura Era, iron glazing incorporating mizutare and oni’ita clay were used in firing. Tea utensils, starting with tea containers, were first made, and the time was known to the world as the Golden Age of Kozeto, or Old Seto. Flower pasting, flower printing and other kinds of decorative methods were developed.
Kozeto pottery was created from the early Kamakura Era. With one variety of iron glaze which contains brown elements within the black of the glaze, tea containers were started to be made and tea utensils came into great use. The Kozeto tea containers were especially famous.
From the Momoyama Era to the early Edo Era, tea utensils were used which included at the time, Shino, Narumi, Seto (Setoguro, Kuro-oribe, Oribeguro) and Enote. At present, Kuro-oribe (black), Ao-oribe (blue), Aka-oribe (red) are included under Oribe.
Generally, only Ao-oribe is identified as Oribe.
Kuro-oribe includes iron glaze while Aka-oribe incorporates red and white clays with patterns designed on the surface and iron brushwork.
E-oribe only deals with Oribe designs and is fired with ash white glaze.
There is a controversy on whether Oribe originated in Mino or Seto, but after Nobunaga Oda was able to shake off the confusion of war, many artisans moved from Seto to Mino, and Kagemitsu Kato, the potter who is said to have opened the Kujiri kilns, carried out his work in Akazu in the second year of Tensho (1575), and in 1583, he returned to Mino and opened Kujiri. In this way, it is thought that at around the same time Seto and Mino started producing Oribe, Shino and Kizeto Ware.
In one kind of iron glaze, the iron content is at about 10% which results in a beautiful yellow color to form on pottery. Plates and pots, which were used as Momoyama Era tea utensils, were in frequent usage. In 1501, flatware such as Shippomon and Hanabenroku were produced in Akazu’s Shirasakataki Shitakama Kilns.
Because only feldspar could be used as a glaze during the Momoyama Era, there were excavated holes to dig out the feldspar in the Hiromi area on the east side of Mt. Sanageyama in Akazu. In addition, on the west side such holes still remain even now in Akazu. Because Mino Ware was using a lot of porcelain clay feldspar high in iron, a red coloration was seen, and thus Mino was also given the nickname of Aka-Shino (Red Shino). At the same time, Akazu’s feldspar had a low iron content which created a white coloration, and thus the nickname of Shiro-Shino (White Shino) was given.
The Owari branch of the Tokugawa clan had a kiln built in the Honmaru Palace gardens of Nagoya Castle, and pottery called Bishu oniwayaki started to be made there. In 1638, Chin Genpin from China was brought over from Edo and took charge of the kiln. The Annam-style of Gosue pottery was first directed by Chin. This painted pottery underwent reduction firing and was given the name of Ofuke, while pottery that underwent oxidation firing was called Annam or Annam-de. The glaze for Annam itself was a variety of ash glaze that had appeared in the time just before the Heian Era.
All of the names above were organized, and the seven types and the glaze names were integrated. On March 30, 1977, they were designated as traditional handicrafts.
Article by Seto City Marutto Museum and Tourist Association