急須-使うことと愛でることKyūsu teapots - to use and to appreciate


うつわには用途に即したいろいろな形状がありますが、なかでもお茶を淹れるときに用いる急須は、作り手の総合的な手わざが試される「King of うつわ」的なアイテムです。



Utsuwa (earthenware) is a craft genre with special connotations.

Sometimes I see people saying “utsuwa is art,” which is half correct and half incorrect.

This is because, whereas paintings and sculptures are meant to be looked at, utsuwa is made to be used as a tool, as well as being something that can be viewed. Therefore, it is a matter of debate whether the word “art” can be used as a blanket term for utsuwa.

Among utsuwa, the kyūsu, a pot for making tea, is the “king of utsuwa,” an item that tests the comprehensive skills of the maker.

kyūsu, the purpose of which is to brew delicious tea, is required to have a sharp spout, an easy-to-hold handle and a lid that fits well. In order to fulfil these requirements, the body, spout, handle, inner tea strainer and lid must be carefully made and assembled in balance.
As the saying goes, “God is in the details,” and the formative tension of each individual part determines the beauty of the whole.

The kyūsu in the image was produced by Mitsuhiro Chiba, who works in Tokoname City in Aichi Prefecture.
Although Tokoname is famous for its red clay-based kyūsu, Chiba creates works with a relaxed interpretation, using white clay to fit in with modern life.
Although the clay used is different from the traditional type, there are techniques unique to Tokoname that are used to fulfil the conditions mentioned above. For example, one such process is “lid-rubbing,” which involves meticulous grinding of the joint between the body and the lid to create an airtight seal that allows the tea leaves to brew thoroughly.

The functionality of the teapot for brewing delicious tea is directly linked to its visual beauty.
This theory, which is similar to the “beauty of utility” advocated by Sōetsu Yanagi (1889-1961) who led the Mingei folk art movement, applies not only to kyūsu, but to all earthenware in general.

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