Gold Chawans | Exhibition Opening Remarks

Masanobu Ando Studio in Tajima Momogusa

In the great history of tea drinking culture in East Asia spanning 2500 years, there were three noteworthy trends. The first, was the drinking of Hei Cha (Bingcha) tea decoction as medicine in China. The second, was matcha: ground Hei Cha (Bingcha), that began in China around the 8th century. Matcha was brought to Japan with Buddhism, then gradually became widespread with the general population at the end of the 12th century. The third, was the flourishing of leaf tea in China, triggered by the matcha ban by the emperor. On the contrary, matcha became popular in Japan through the establishment of Sado (the way of tea). The well-known tradition continues through till today. This matcha trend in Japan led to the production of various matcha bowls (chawan), eventually becoming a unique part of Japan’s culture. In the palm-sized matcha bowls, the artisans attempt to make distinct focal points to be admired, like the shape of the foot and rim, in such a way that the user feels the universe in the vessel. It can be said that matcha bowls are like sculptures for the Japanese. Some matcha bowls that are masterpieces have been passed down for hundreds of years.

I’m curious about how Americans will apply my matcha bowls in their lives. Once, I was invited for dinner at the house of an artist in France. I was fascinated with the first course of the meal – soup, served in a matcha bowl. Since matcha bowls retain heat, it really made sense to me. The gold matcha bowls I made this time are made of pure gold glaze burned on a black base. The gold is then scraped slightly. Golden vessels are usually considered items for special events, but from the perspective of Wabi-Sabi, I intentionally damaged them and made them for daily-use as well. My hope is that you will enjoy life with my tea bowls.

Masanobu Ando in his studio making a gold chawan
Masanobu Ando Studio Library Tajima Galerie Momogusa
Masanobu Ando Studio Tajima Galerie Momogusa

Translation courtesy of Aya Nihei

Written by Masanobu Ando

Masanobu Ando

November 12, 2022

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