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Deutsches Institut für Japanstudien


Deutsches Institut für Japanstudien
3-3-6 Kudan-Minami, Chiyoda-ku
Tokyo 102-0074
Tel: 03 – 3222 5198
Fax: 03 – 3222 5420


The Aesthetics of the Momoyama Period and Its Appeal to Contemporary German Ceramists

March 5, 2003 / 6:30 P.M.

Eva Kaminski, University of Hamburg

“Momoyama no bi” – the aesthetics of the Momoyama period (1573-1613) is one of the most frequent topics in discussions of Japanese ceramics. During this period, under the influence of the tea masters Sen no Rikyū and Furuta Oribe, new aesthetic values flourished in the world of tea ceramics. Rather than the subtle beauty of porcelain, stone- and earthenware were appreciated. One group was characterized by its seeming imperfection, dynamic form, asymmetry, expressive ornament and rough surface texture, the other by its elegant simplicity and lack of decoration. These features were reflected in the glazed Raku and Mino wares as well as in the unglazed Bizen, Echizen, Iga, Shigaraki, Tamba, and Tokoname wares.
Especially Raku, Bizen, Echizen, Iga, and Shigaraki became a new source of inspiration for contemporary German ceramists and shaped not only the technical development of their works, but also stimulated the understanding of hitherto unknown aesthetics.
The aim of this paper is to present the ceramics of the Momoyama period as well as modern pieces based on the aesthetic principles of this era. Moreover, I will describe the process of its reception in contemporary German ceramics and answer the question of how this encounter with Japanese culture influenced German developments, and how it can change established assessments of ceramic works.