Chato: Ceramic Teaware

New York Asia Week, September 13 — 22, 2007


Scholten Japanese Art and Ryo Iida Asian Art are pleased to announce our sixth collaborative exhibition: Chato: Ceramic Teaware, opening September 13, 2007. This exhibition is focused on the ceramics used for tea ceremony from Momoyama Period (1568-1615) and Edo Period (1615-1868). We are fortunate to present several examples of wares which are typically preferred for use in the tea ceremony: Shino, Oribe, Bizen and Karatsu.

flower dish

The tea ceremony (chado or sado, lit. 'the way of tea') developed after the introduction of powdered tea (matcha) in the 12th century by a Buddhist monk, Eisai (1141-1215), returning from China. The powdered tea was included in Zen Buddhist rituals, and by the following century, samurai warriors, who had begun to adopt Zen Buddhist practices, also adopted tea preparation rituals. As the practiced evolved into a refined ceremony, the aesthetic of tea likewise emerged. Up until the Momoyama Period, fancy imported Chinese wares (karamono) or quiet Korean wares were the stars in the tearoom. However, by the 16th century, the ceremony was increasingly practiced by Japanese of all classes, and as such, foreign imports could not meet the demand. At the same time, influential tea masters such as Sen no Rikyu (1522-1591), promoted a more simple ceremony which utilized everyday objects. Over a brief span of 30 or 40 years, the classic styles of Japanese tea taste developed which emphasized the natural beauty of humble domestic wares for their inherent wabi-sabi (roughly translated: imperfect or impermanent beauty). As a result of this new-found appreciation of 'rustic' wares, the Momoyama Period saw the emergence of revolutionary new forms of ceramics reflecting the wabi and sabi aesthetics of the tea masters of the time.

birds dish

For example, included in the exhibition are three superior Momoyama Period Shino ware dishes, produced in Mino (modern Gifu prefecture), an important center for Japanese pottery. There are two mukozuke dishes (a relatively small dish used by an attendee to the ceremony to receive food or sweets) decorated with classic Shino style coloring of contrasting dark red and creamy-white. The third dish, decorated with white plovers in flight on a reddish-grey ground, is an extremely rare example of nezumi (grey) Shino.


One of the most famous styles of pottery from Mino is named after the tea master and gentleman samurai Furuta Oribe (1544-1615). These wares are very easy to identify with their emerald green glaze, distorted shapes and fanciful designs. A mukozuke dish included in the exhibition is decorated with the typical tsurushi-gaki ('hanged dried persimmon') motif unique to Oribe. Also included in the exhibition is a large Oribe incense burner, a very rare model for its size and complexity of construction. The pillow-shaped body is highlighted with olive green glaze and surmounted by a crouching shishi (Buddhist lion) bearing a comical grin.

Another ware made popular during this period is from Karatsu. The essence of classic Karatsu pottery is found in somber wares utilizing a wide variety of glazes ranging from earthy, buff tones to deep ocean blues. A mukozuke dish included in this exhibition is e-Karatsu (painted Karatsu) type, refering to the iron underglaze paintings of skillful brush strokes. The dish in the exhibition is decorated with a simple painting of wild flowers in basket.

A flower vase or sake container of Bizen ware from 16th century is also presented in this exhibition. The Bizen kilns near the town of Imbe in Okayama prefecture are known to have been active since the 13th century. They produced a variety of utilitarian vessels until the 16th century when Bizen wares attracted the attention of tea masters who began to order vessels specifically for use in the tea ceremony. Bizen wares are usually unglazed, and the random spots of glaze on this vessel were produced by kiln ash that fell on the pot and fused during the firing. The elegant shape and warm, natural finish of this piece is typical of Bizen wares, which are made of dense, fine-grained clay that fire to a deep reddish brown. The bottle was incised with the craftsman's hash type (#) mark to its body.

The show also includes several different types of tea ceramics such as works from Kiyomizu, Banko, and Imari. In addition, the gallery will also exhibit a small selection of paintings and woodblock prints.

The exhibition opens Thursday, September 13th and continues through Saturday, September 22th. Scholten Japanese Art, located at 145 West 58th Street, Suite 6D, is open Monday through Friday, and some Saturdays, 11am to 5pm, by appointment. To schedule an appointment please call 212.585.0474.

For the duration of the exhibition the gallery will have general open hours Monday — Saturday, 12 to 5pm.


Scholten Japanese Art is open Monday - Friday, and some Saturdays by appointment only

Contact Katherine Martin at
(212) 585-0474 or email
to schedule a visit between 11am and 4pm preferably for no more than two individuals at a time.
Visitors are asked to wear face masks and practice social distancing at their discretion.

site last updated
September 22, 2022

Scholten Japanese Art
145 West 58th Street, suite 6D
New York, New York 10019
ph: (212) 585-0474
fx: (212) 585-0475