Tea Bowl with Hakame DesignArtist(s)KoreanArtist NationalityKorean (culture or style)Object Creation Date15th centuryMedium & Supportstoneware with white brushed slip under colorless glazeDimensions
2 15/16 x 7 x 7 in. (7.4 x 17.7 x 17.7 cm)Credit LineGift of Bruce and Inta Hasenkamp and Museum purchase made possible by Elder and Mrs. Sang-Yong NamLabel copy
Swift, confident sweeps of a wide brush lightly dipped in white slip decorate the interior of this bowl. The rough, flat brush used to apply slip is known as a gwiyal. Buncheong potters brought this technique to Japan at the end of the sixteenth century, where it became known as hakame (“brush-mark”) and became very popular in tea ceremony wares.
The rustic forms and bold, unpretentious designs of Buncheong ware were greatly appreciated in Japan after the renowned tea master Sen no Rikyu introduced wabicha, or the rustic style of tea. In Korea, vessels of this type probably served as everyday food bowls, but in Japan they were elevated to the status of precious implements used only in chanoyu, the formal tea ceremony. The tea bowl’s soft clay body would be warm to the touch, and the curve of the bowl’s hip would fit comfortably in the hand. The broad foot imparted visual stability and prevented the bowl from tipping over when set down on the uneven surface of a tatami mat.
Buncheong bowls decorated solely with brushed hakame patterns are especially beloved by Japanese practitioners of wabicha. Here, the broken, calligraphic sweeps of white clay against the dark stoneware body of one bowl likely resulted from the use of a brush of coarse rice straw. The ornamentation of this bowl fits the wabicha aesthetic for surprising and unpretentious objects.
The bowl with a stamped rope–curtain design was certainly once a treasured vessel for tea. Its Japanese owner had the cracks in the bowl mended with silver and then sealed with lacquer to preserve the bowl’s functionality. The distorted shape combined with the causally executed decoration exudes a primitive power that must have resonated with wabicha aficionados. The bowl has a worn Sino–Korean inscription stating that it was made for “court-official use.” It is tempting to regard this bowl as a reject of the Joseon court that was given a new life as a treasured tea object in Japan.
(Label for UMMA Korean Gallery Opening Rotation, March 2009)Subject matter
Tea bowl with hakame design.Physical Description
Stoneware tea bowl with slightly flaring lip, white slip hakame design and colorless glaze.
The inner and outer surfaces of this buncheong bowl have been brushed with white slip. Its inner base retains traces of seven spurs, while the uneven application of glaze has exposed the unglazed body. The glaze itself was fairly well fused. The bowl is intact without damage.
[Korean Collection, University of Michigan Museum of Art (2014) p.156]Primary Object Classification Ceramic Primary Object TypebowlCollection AreaAsianRights
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ceramics (object genre)