An unusual Bizen tea bowl LNT Fujiwara Yū. The bowl was fired upside down so that the naturally occurring Bizen ash glaze gathered on the foot of the bowl and is running in streams towards the vessel's rim. Firing a tea bowl this way is highly unusual since it increases the risk that the bowl either stick to the kiln's floor and will finally be destroyed or that it does not stand flat on its foot and is therefor unusable within the tea ceremony. However, this work is perfectly fine in both ways: The ash glaze just stopped precisely flowing over the wall at the lip of the bowl and its foot is smooth and even. The impression of the ash glaze is even highlighted by the tall and straight walls and the nice contrast to the iron-oxide red Bizen clay. The inside of the bowl is unglazed and shows some red traces of the so called 'fire cords' (hidasuki) caused by braided straw cords. These cords were possibly used here as a cushion on which the bowl rested during the firing.
Fujiwara Yū, born 1932 in Honami in Bizen, Okayama prefecture, as son of Fujiwara Kei (1899-1983), has been awarded the title "Living National Treasure" in 1996 for his continuous efforts to preserve and teach the traditional techniques of Bizen pottery. Fujiwara Yū was early recognized abroad as one of Japan's leading traditional potters what led to countless exhibitions in Japan and overseas. His works are collected in many international public collections and are part of the permanent exhibition in the Fujiwara Kei Memorial Hall, a wonderful museum dedicated to the family's work and the Bizen tradition in Okayama.
The tea bowl is signed underneath with Yū's potter mark and comes with a fitted wooden box. The box is sealed by the artist and bears an additional certification by Fujiwara Yū's wife, Kimiko: "Made by the preserver of the important intangible cultural property of Bizen ceramics, the deceased Fujiwara Yū, certified by his wife Fujiwara Kimiko." According to this inscription, it is very possible that this tea bowl was made during one of his very last firings and therefor is one of his last testimonials to the world before the great master of Bizen ceramics passed away in 2001.