Saturday, February 22, 2014

Made in Japan

Back when I studied Art History, I became fascinated by clay sculptures, or tomb markers, called Haniwa, which appear in the archeological record in the Kofun period in Japan (c. 300-552 CE).  During this time period, there were well organized craft and other labor groups known as Be.  The Haniwa in particular were made by the Haji-tsukuri-be, a clay workers guild.

In these later years, my captivation with these intriguing forms led me to more modern (and affordable!) forms of Japanese ceramics, the everyday, mass produced, wabi-sabi novelty and home decor items from the 1950's and 1960's.

But herein lies the connection: there are some districts in Japan, where these clay guilds have been in existence for centuries, and these vintage items I find so charming were made in districts that have long histories, where families have handed down their skills through the generations. In the 50's and 60's, some of these producers switched from traditional pottery styles to commercial ceramics for export. 

This set of 'Price Import' company stylized swans with matching bowl/planter was recently gifted to me:

What's your collection obsession?

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