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Mystery pottery yunomi? Chawanmushi cup?

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Studio Art Pottery90 of 1168Mystery yunomi #2Western style yunomi by studio art potter Roy Overcast
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    Posted 2 years ago

    (880 items)

    This covered yunomi or chawanmushi cup (?) is 4.25" high x 3.5" in diameter. There were two loose cups in the possessions of the American professor who taught at a university in Japan in the 1990s, one signed in Japanese and this one indistinctly signed in cursive. They were sold as a pair and the other cup was well worth the price asked for both of them. The seller noted that the lot was mostly Japanese items with a few American and British pieces in the pile. This is the oddest one of the pair and of uncertain origins, probably American or British studio pottery. It is heavily glazed and seemingly well made, except for the two indentations roughly gouged into the sides, very roughly, and not cleaned up at all. There are also lots of bubbles in the glaze and a crack that does not seem to go deeper than the glaze. The lid fits very precisely and does a good job of being a lid. I am not sure what to make of this one, but it was super inexpensive, so I thought I would take a swing at trying to figure out what it is. I have seen lots of covered yunomi and this is about the right size but it may also be for eating an egg custard dish called chawanmushi... Guessing it at least qualifies as studio art pottery probably inspired by some Japanese objects, but not Japanese, possibly British or American made... Opinions welcome!

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    1. kwqd kwqd, 2 years ago
      Thanks for taking a look at my strange yunomi Jenni, fortapache, Thomas, Kevin, Hoot60 and RichmondLori!
    2. rhineisfine rhineisfine, 2 years ago
      This is just a guess, but to me this really looks like Asian-inspired western art pottery. Leaving aside the signature script on the bottom (which I can't make out, but it sure looks like cursive!), the elements don't seem to quite fit together for me as Japanese. Yes, you do see some yunomi where the sides are naturally "pinched" in like this, so that the cup can be held with thumb and forefinger as you drink. But, the flat unglazed lip is not characteristic of a Japanese drinking vessel - the edge you drink from is generally considered pretty important, and this one doesn't look very mouth-friendly. The foot is also very small and it looks like it could easily tip over - although that's not totally unheard of! So I was leaning in the direction of it being a storage vessel of some sort ... but then there are those pinched-in sides!! So I think it's some kind of hybrid form, likely western-made.

      These are just my impressions - I've been learning about pottery en passant for the last 16 years (when you study tea ceremony, it kinda comes with the territory) but Japanese pottery is a vast subject and I am really still a newbie. So please take these comments with a hefty pinch of salt.
    3. kwqd kwqd, 2 years ago
      Thanks for your comment, rhineisfine! I agree with your conclusions. I had also arrived at, not Japanese, probably American studio pottery. What was throwing me was the source. This professor's estate seemed to have only Japanese articles in it, but I have no idea how much of his estate I actually saw. I spent some time trying to shoehorn it into what I know of Japanese pottery, which is very meager, before giving up on that idea. That is what lead me to finally grasping at a chawanmushi cup since no drinking is involved. I have not received this one, yet, so not sure how ergonomic it is for anything but looking at.
    4. racer4four racer4four, 2 years ago
      It's great to have your input on this Rhineisfine.
      As I said on Kevin's other yunomi post the style is very Japanese.
      I'm not knowledgeable enough to say if it's really Japanese or in the style of.
    5. kwqd kwqd, 2 years ago
      Thanks for your comment Karen! It is going to be a long road for me to gather a meager knowledge about Japanese pottery, but I have lots of time to devote to the study and one more thing to be on the lookout for once I get back to thrift shops!

      Thanks for taking a look at my mystery pot glassiegirl and Blammoammo!
    6. kwqd kwqd, 2 years ago
      Thanks for looking at my covered pot Vynil33rpm!
    7. kwqd kwqd, 2 years ago
      Updated photos. These images better show the actual color, which is sort of plum colored. Also a better image of the signature, which is definitely cursive, something like "Wently"? Really not sure of anything after "Wen...". So definitely appears to be Western interpretation of something like a Japanese covered chawanmushi cup. The lid fits very snugly to the body, very precise, very well done. Signature guesses welcome!
    8. kwqd kwqd, 2 years ago
      I also contacted the seller and he told me that there were a few pieces of British and American pottery in the professor's pile. Sent another message asking where he lived in case there are clues from that. The cup is very stable despite its small base, but the gouged out material for the finger holes is extruded on opposite sides of the holes as the cup is held so it requires of a bit of grip shifting to get a comfortable hold on the cup. This is causing me to lean toward a feeling that this cup is more for looking at than for using....
    9. kwqd kwqd, 2 years ago
      Thank you Blammoammo!
    10. kwqd kwqd, 2 years ago
      Thanks foseatme!
    11. kwqd kwqd, 2 years ago
      Thank you Vynil33rpm!
    12. kwqd kwqd, 3 months ago
      Thanks vcal! Still a mystery!

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