Oribe ware

Oribe ware dish with lid in fan-shape, stoneware green and black glazed, early Edo period, c. 1600
Cornered bowl, Edo period, 17th century
Oribeguro kutsugata chawan, early Edo period, c. 1620

Oribe ware (織部焼 Oribe-yaki) is a type of Mino ware, which is traditionally made in Tajimi, Japan. It was developed and named after Lord Furuta Oribe (15441615).


Ceramics from China, called karamon, were originally predominant. However, Lord Furuta Oribe pursued a completely different form of beauty and introduced an aesthetic of discord. The irregular shapes, distortions and scratches on a Mino ware bowl appeared to be signs of poor craftsmanship, but this unique design is what was appreciated by Oribe. The irregular shape, rather than practicality was enjoyed. His taste became the mainstream, revolutionizing how people approached the traditional Japanese tea ceremony. The masters of tea found ways to use the Mino Ware that the creators had not thought of or intended.[1]

The new aesthetic of the irregular popularized by Oribe went beyond the tea bowl. His dishes for serving food were flattened, irregular shapes that could not be made on a wheel and instead were made over a mold. They were also designed with geometric patterns.

Oribe ware is most identifiable for its use of green copper glaze and bold painted design. It was the first use of colored stoneware glaze by Japanese potters. Oribe was supposedly influenced by the green introduced from China, but adapted it for local tastes. This color was rarely used and took many of his contemporaries by surprise.

Artists specializing in Oribe ware are Yasuo Tamaoki (b. 1941) and Osamu Suzuki (b. 1934; 鈴木藏), who was designated a Living National Treasure in 1994. Suzuki Goro (b. 1941; 鈴木五郎) is a modern artist who works amongst other in Oribe ware,[2][3][4][5][6] as well as Shigeru Koyama.[7][8] The Museum of Furuta Oribe in Kyoto opened in 2014 and exhibits a number of Oribe ware.


Originally, designs of irregular shapes in Mino ware were coincidental; either it became warped on the potter’s wheel or during the firing process. In traditional Japanese aesthetics, the irregularities are considered a part of nature. If it is irregular, it may seem more natural and convey warmth and softness and fragility, in accordance with wabi-sabi.[9] Also, a tea bowl would look different from every angle and the user could discover it in many ways not only visually but also by touch. Either side could be the front of the bowl, depending on the view. On the contrary, a perfect symmetrical shape could give an artificial or a cold impression. The kutsugata chawan (沓形茶碗) is a typical form that follows these principles.[10][11]

At some point the irregularity was made intentionally.[12] The clay body typically has a low-iron content and is formed gradually by hand on a wheel. Once the curves are added with the fingers, the surface is carved dynamically with a spatula. Pieces can be taken and by boldly scraping away at the surface, it can create a powerful visual effect on the vessel.

For the production of flat food vessels with irregular shapes that could not be made on a wheel, a range of different drape moldings are used. A sheet of clay is applied over a piece of fabric and pressed against the mold. Molds are rarely used to shape pottery. But it breaks up the symmetry and creates irregular shapes. An irregular shape is considered more interesting than a regular one.

Different glazes and patterns developed:

Oribe is a style of pottery with much variation in the type of ware as well as the surface treatment. Like many types of Japanese pottery, bowls and dishes are common.[16][17] Oribe wares also include lidded jars and handled food containers. Many Japanese chefs still use Oribe green for their cuisine.[18] A green coloured glaze is considered visually complimentary for traditional foods such as white or red fish or seafood. Food can be arranged on either the green or white side of the plate to create visual harmony and thus be aesthetically pleasing.



Further readings

Media related to Oribe ware at Wikimedia Commons

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