People often ask 'what exactly is raku?' It is a style of pottery that originated in Japan in the 16th century. The ware was created to be used in the tea ceremony. Raku embodies the Japanese principle of wabi, which honors emptiness, natural simplicity and imperfection. The tea bowls are all hand built (as opposed to wheel thrown) and fired in a special firing.
Raku is the family name of a pottery family in Japan that has been creating this style of ceramics for over 400 years. The word raku means enjoyment, comfort or ease. The name was bestowed on the 16th century potter, Tanaka Chojiro by the Japanese emperor, Hideyoshi because his tea bowls were so highly regarded. Every Raku generation is encouraged to find their own style. “ A parent teaches to his child that he will not teach. Every child is encouraged to develop their own style. No formulas are written down." Raku Kichizaemon is the current raku master. He describes the tea bowl interior as “a universe held in the palms.”
Adapted from Raku: Cosmos in a Teabowl by Kathleen Whitney, Ceramics Monthly, January 2016
This is the second post about raku, to learn more about ‘American’ raku see: Raku: The Joy of Fire