Pottery is part of our life. Without knowing it, we are using Japanese traditional pottery for Kyusu (Japanese teapot), Donabe (Earthenware pot), and other utensils. This article introduces tanba ware/tanba-tachikui ware among many types of pottery.
What is Tanba ware?
Tanba ware/Tanba-tachikui ware (hereinafter “tanba ware”) is a type of ceramics that are produced around Konda in tanba-Sasayama City, Hyogo Prefecture. It is one of Japan’s Six Ancient Kilns along with Tokoname Ware, Seto Ware, Echizen Ware, etc. tanba-ware potteries have been consistently producing simple livingwares since their opening, while many other potteries change the type of products with changing times.
Features of Tanba ware
tanba ware has the following features:
Counterclockwise potter’s wheel
While many types of pottery use a clockwise potter’s wheel, tanba ware has been using a counterclockwise one, which is rare in Japan, for many generations. The traditional technique has been passed down to the present days.
Most potteries are small-sized
Most of the potteries of tanba ware are small-sized. They do soli making to completion all by themselves. Works are made by artists who have returned from their training journey across the country. Every individual artist utilizes his\her own experience and techniques and shows a unique style. Also, tanba ware is featured by its small production volume because almost all the tanba-ware ceramics are made by artists.
Only one color and pattern in the world
Tanba ware is baked for many hours at high temperatures. Pine firewood ashes fall on a pottery work and melts with iron contained in the raw materials of the pottery. The chemical reaction presents a unique pattern and color. The representation called “Hai-kaburi (ash-covered)” is beloved as tanba-ware’s distinctive color and pattern. Hai-kaburi makes various colors and patterns depending on the touch and strength of flames and the way of covering ashes. Every single work is unique.
History of Tanba ware
Tanba ware changed its name several times in its history of 800 years as times shift.
Its Birth to Azuchi–Momoyama period
The production area of tanba ware is around Konda in Sasayama City, Hyogo Prefecture. It used to be called “Onobara ware” because back then the place was Settsu-Sumiyoshi Shrine’s manor with the same name.
In the Edo period, the introduction of Korean style climbing kilns enabled massive and quick production of ceramics, which dramatically increased the output. This period is called Kamaya Period because they built climbing kilns at the foot of mountains in Kamaya. In this period, the name changed from Onobara ware to “tanba ware.” Tea pottery of tanba ware is also famous, but the tea pottery production became active only in the Edo Period, slightly later than other types of pottery.
Meiji period to present
From the Meiji period, tanba ware started being produced mainly in Tachikui District and called “Tachikui ware.” And then, they sent an application to change the name to “tanba-tachikui ware” to combine tanba ware and Tachikui ware, when the country designated their pottery as a national traditional craft. The application was approved and the name officially became “tanba-tachikui ware.”