Tea Bowl, known as 'SAIO'

  • Korea
  • Korea, Yi dynasty
  • 16c
  • Punch'ong ware, Kohiki type
  • H-8.1 D-16
Catalogue Entry

Korea, Yi dynasty, 16th century
Punch'ong ware
Height, 8.1cm; mouth diameter, 16.1cm;
foot diameter, 6.5cm

Compared to other forms of Korai Korean tea bowls, there are relatively few examples of the kohiki type that have been handed down through the generations, and they have been extremely prized as rare bowls by former generations of tea masters. The term kohiki can be written with either one of two character compounds, and the name implies the soft sense of the glaze which looks as if powder has been blown onto the bowl. The shapes known as Miyoshi kohiki and Matsudaira kohiki have deep bodies, while there are examples, as here, of bowls with wide mouths, and also some flat tea bowl examples. The present bowl is of the type commonly known as the sutsugi type and is a tea bowl that imitates the katakuchi shape of spouted bowl. Indeed, some examples of this type have a large trimming repair which looks like the traces of a missing spout.

This bowl is fascinating for the manner in which it was thrown. While it looks like it was thrown with a seemingly large expansive hand, the actual wheel marks are in fact narrowly spaced, and the wide interior has a depression for the accumulation of the tea. The base edges of the foot are narrow, and there are thin traces of carving on the interior of the foot―a handling distinctive to the kohiki type. There are many examples of this sutsugi type in which the glaze is rough, but this bowl shows a smooth, gentle glazing with some areas where the puddling of the glaze has formed a light bluish color. The various patina stains which have grown over the generations of its use give it a particularly subtle glaze coloration. There are five sagger traces on the foot and in the interior of the bowl, and the feel of the sagger traces on the foot is also distinctive to this kohiki type.
The box is inscribed "Ko ̄rai kofuki Saio ̄ Chawan." The name "Saio ̄" obviously comes from the Tale of E-nanji and reflects the philosophy of human life that states that fortune turns to calamity, just as calamity turns to fortune. TA