Iga & Shigaraki Ware
Home > Iga yaki & Shigaraki yaki
Iga, the home of Iga yaki, is a small castle town in the mountains of Mie prefecture, famous as the birthplace of Iga ninja. Geographically, Iga is very close to Shigaraki in Shiga prefecture and as a result the wares share certain common characteristics. The origins of Iga yaki are thought to lie in the 13th to 14th centuries, but it first came to provenance in the Muromachi period(1333 - 1573) when it flourished as a producer of tea ceremony wares under the auspices of prominent tea ceremony masters such as Sen no Rikkyu. Many flower vases and mizusashi ( water containers ) produced during the Momoyama period (1568-1615)have been appointed National Cultural Treasures. Once situated on the bed of Lake Biwa (Japan's largest lake), Iga benefitted from the lake's shift east to Shiga pref. due to changes in the earth's crust over 1.2 million years ago. Good quality clay, rich in minerals was left behind and this has made Iga yaki extremely resistant to heat. As a result the wares react well to repeated firing, giving craftsmen an excellent opportunity to experiment with different firing techniques. Iga yaki epitomises the Japanese aesthetic of "wabi sabi" with its rustic appearance and irregular forms. Today the area is home to many craftsmen who push the concept to its limits with purposefully deformed shapes, given extra character by the addition of "katamimi" handles and "herame"( gouges and dents crested with a special tool). Many pieces are covered with the classic "bidoro" glassy glaze which is formed by the ash in a hot kiln. Different effects and finishes are achieved by varying the positions of the pieces in the kiln and securing them with small shells which also leave their mark and add to the overall spontaneity. Inspired and dynamic, Iga ware is a combination of careful planning on the part of the craftsmen and their ability to give free rein to the impetuous forces of nature within the confines of the kiln, producing pieces which are created from the earth and shaped by the nature that surrounds them.
Picture left) Old climbing kiln of Nagatanien which was used between1832-1970.
(Picture right) center of Igayaki production - Marubashira area, Iga
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|These items by Saeki Kengo are wood-fired in his climbing kiln for 10 days at temperatures
reachng approx. 1250-1270 degrees celsius.
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