Ōtagaki Rengetsu is possibly the most famous female poet of 19th Century and also known for her excellent skills in calligraphy and pottery. It was after the death of her stepfather in 1832, when Rengetsu began to make her extraordinary pottery, which she usually inscribed with her own waka (31-syllable classical poetry) and sold to support herself. With her unique combination of pottery, calligraphy and poetry, Rengetsu gained already large recognition during her lifetime far beyond the borders of Kyōto.
The high demand in Rengetsu works led to the production of collaboration works with friendly potters like Issō (dates unknown). After working together with Rengetsu, Issō became an expert for her pottery as well her calligraphic style and eventually started to make works in her style himself. Authorized by Rengetsu, these 19. century works bear much of Rengetsu's original inspiration and are a good source of understanding the great admiration, that Rengetsu experienced in her last decades.
This cream white glazed, irregular shaped flower vase with two handles was inscribed in iron brown with one of Rengetsu's poems. Considering the calligraphic characteristics and the Rengetsu signature, this vase was made and inscribed most possibly by Issō. The poem reads:
In the morning breeze
a riverbank willow
scatters its leaves
into the flowing waters—
so autumn begins.
Black Robe, White Mist: Art of the Japanese Buddhist Nun Rengetsu, National Gallery of Australia, 2007.
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