Published in Honoho Geijutsu Issue # 68, 2001
The Zen of Pottery
Since the last issue of Honoho Geijutsu the world has changed a great deal. We all know of the horrific day of 9/11 when a chunk of liberty was shattered across the world. Its ramifications have rippled around the world touching all nations. But changes occur everyday, when you really think of it, and isn't change the most natural thing? Of course the changes I'm referring to are mostly very subtle, a shift in the wind, a quarter kilo lighter, a different person passed, and not the ones brought on by mad violence or major events.
Unfortunately most people cling to standard patterns of thinking about life and never really take notice of these small wonders. Religion, economy, lifestyles, and other social factors dictate our way of looking at life; what real and true thoughts can we call our own? Where can one learn of these subtle everyday changes? I think in the world of Zen.
The west would be wise to learn from Zen, especially now. I believe Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi had a spark of Zen in them. So we can see that Zen has a universal appeal, like the sun and love.
I delight in living with shuki (sake vessels) with Zen symbols, for they remind me how change is a daily occurrence. Pictured above are two Shino guinomi that are such examples.
(Guinomi at right above with enso "circle" symbol)
The strong form of the enso-painted guinomi (is the enso a 'picture' of Earth?) is softened by the gentle white glaze where tinges of pink ooze from the body. An enso reminds me of the cycles of life, the daily goings and comings, a season, a life. This enso was drawn with a swift stroke, confident yet humble, bold yet gentle. In fact it negates all need for adjectives and leads to a world of mu. That world, like John Lennon's Imagine, is a space where humanity might be able to find true peace. We need that now more than ever.
(Guinomi at left above with symbol for "one")
Ichi-mon-ji; one: One world, one peaceful vision, one respect for humanity. It also reminds me of the preciousness of each single day.
This guinomi has a lovely azuki colored glaze with pockmark citrus marks dotting the body. The lip is actually quite sensual.
Kodai -- The Foot of Above Guinomi
(Sake Flask in first photo)
A tokkuri that shows that everlasting beauty can be made in a simple form when the potter's technique and spirit are aligned in a Zen way. No matter how much change happens in this world, this Iga tokkuri by the late Furutani Michio will remain to enlighten kindred spirits with the quiet grace found in ceramics. No matter if that's tomorrow or in a thousand years, these pieces, like our lives, flow down a Zen river.
Blink once and it's changed
So have you
by Robert Yellin
published in Honoho Geijutsu Issue #68, 2001
photos courtesy of Honoho Geijutsu