Posted 10 months ago
These cups are 3" high x 2.75" wide at top and 3.5" high x 3" wide at top with tomobako. Mashiko Ware is named for the region of Japan where it is made. The Tsukamoto pottery has been in existence since 1864 and is still an active pottery. Their pottery adheres to the principle of Mingei, or Folk Craft. This Meoto Yunomi set came from the possessions of a couple who lived in Japan in the 1960s and 1970s and perhaps commemorated their marriage as it is a traditional wedding gift. The large cup represents the husband and the smaller cup the wife. This set has never been used and probably sat on a shelf for the last 50 or 60 years. The Japanese are very serious about anything associated with drinking tea and yunomi can be quite expensive, but I wanted a decent example for my collection and found this locally from a consignment seller who was helping a friend sell her grandparents' possessions.
I was not able to find Tsukamoto's web site, as I was later told that it is in Japanese, with no English page. After much research I was finally able to locate someone who apprenticed at Tsukamoto. She is a professional potter in the U.S., now, and has a web site (https://reiko-miyagi.squarespace.com/), check it out, some great pottery there. The Japanese characters in her comments did not survive cut and paste to CW and became ? marks.
"The box says “????/meoto yunomi, ???/Tsukamoto-kama” (Tsukamoto-gama when you pronounce). ? (kama) means kiln or "kiln made" in this case. In Japan "XXX kiln" equals "XXX studio" so it’s made by Tsukamoto studio or company. At Tsukamoto, they are two parties that make pottery. They have a few people called “shokunin” (means artisan), or, at Tsukamoto, professional thrower. They usually been throwing for decades all day long so their throwing skills are very high and fast. Then there are one or two apprentices who get a throwing job after years of training. Your yunomi was thrown by one of these these pro-throwers and then taken to the glazing room after the bisque firing. They are many people at the glazing job but only ones that are more skilled are allowed to use a brush to decorate. So your yunomi is not made by a particular artist but the whole concept of Mashiko folk art is, "there is beauty in nameless artisan’s work” so it does’t mean less value I think, I think your yunomi’s are very nice. Hakeme (brush stroke) and tetsue (iron drawing) are my favorite decoration technique."
The Japanese concept of Mingei was conceived in the 1920s-1930s. To qualify as mingei, items must be made by anonymous craftspeople, produced by hand in quantity, inexpensive, functional for daily life, and representative of the regions where they are produced.
A primer on Japanese tea cups:
About Tsukamoto Pottery:
About Masiko Ware:
About the Japanese Folk Craft Movement:
This is a really slick presentation about Mashiko ware: