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Woodfired Stoneware from Shigaraki

Woodfired Stoneware from Shigaraki, by Shiho Kanzaki opens with a beautiful image of the Shigaraki Pottery Rice Field, helping to put the screen text into the context of the 'real world'. This is a well made, matured site, with a consistent design which is relatively easy to wander through using the navigation bar at the bottom of each page.

Shaigaraki Pottery

Stoneware pottery in the Shigaraki area began during the Middle Ages, with a close association to the medieval 'Sueki' style and tradition - work which was fired in Anagama kilns and had natural ash glazes. As the 'way of tea' ('michi' - see also web site review of Japanese Culture Seen in Kanazawa, Ceramics Art & Perception issue 27) and the Zen philosophy gained popularity between the 14th & 16th centuries, Shigaraki was selected for the production of tea utensils. The qualities of the ensuing pottery may be named "wabi and sabi", meaning asymmetric, simple, subtle and refined, restrained and lustered. Thanks to "michi" crude medieval farmhouse utensils made way for revered objects of contemplation.

In the history section of the site, we can also look up the "Nihon Rokkoyo" or "Chose Rokkoyo" - the "six oldest pottery centers in Japan" and view their locations on a map, or read about Ancient Shigaraki or Tamba Pottery.

But history and ancient pottery is not all this site has to offer. On a more contemporary note, we can visit the 'Virtual Exhibition' which features work not only by Shiho Kanzaki (Japan), the author of the site, but also woodfired or Anagama ceramics from Dick Lehman (USA), Peter Voulkos (USA), Karl Beamer (USA), Jeff Shapiro (USA), Chester Nealie (Australia), Toshiko Takaezu (USA) and others. Each page features an image of the artist (again putting the computer screen into the context of the 'real' world), a CV and statement and a number of images of each persons works.

A further section of the site deals with the Anagama kiln construction - here Shiho Kanzaki offers us his experience and even a kiln plan or two, with images of different stages of construction.

Shiho Kanzaki is not only an accomplished potter, but has also created a wonderful site devoted to woodfiring and the tradition of Anagama.

Related Links:
Ceramics Pioneer Peter Voulkos
Japanese Culture seen in Kanazawa
Japanese Ceramics

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