When we visited Korea last year we were impressed by the beauty of the traditional hand-crafted teawares that we saw. We had the good fortune to meet several of Korea’s notable potters and we learned a great deal about the aesthetics of Korean teawares from each of them.
Korea has a very ancient tradition of pottery production, and today the tradition of teawares is continued by many fine potters who specialize in functional and uniquely Korean tea bowls, teapots and tea cups.
The Korean teawares style is simple and humble, quietly elegant and natural in feeling. The ideal is to express beauty through pleasing shapes, soft, warm glazes and an overall natural feeling. In addition to aesthetic concerns, Korean potters understand that teawares must showcase the tea, and be a pleasurable vessel for the person making or drinking the tea. Teawares should not be a vehicle for showing off ostentatious glazes or creative hand-crafting techniques.
Korean potters are also concerned that their tea bowls and tea cups feel good in the hand and are comfortable to hold, and that each piece has a stable foot ring that allows the bowl or cup to sit securely on a table. A well-formed lip is important, too, for pleasurable tea drinking. Most Korean pottery is wood fired, which adds a rustic elegance to the works and respects the fact that nature always has a hand in the outcome of the pottery fired in the kiln.
It is difficult to find handmade Korean pottery in the USA, so we are thrilled to have a selection of teapots and teacups from Korean artist Park Jong Il.
Park Jong Il lives a humble and spiritual life in the mountains. His studio and kiln are located next to his house, and he fires his pottery with wood that he cuts in the forest surrounding his house in a traditional orumgama – a chambered climbing kiln.
Park Jong Il is a remarkable artist who believes that there is a spiritual connection with the earth, the clay and the tea that will be steeped and drunk from his bowls, cups and teapots. His pottery reflects the simple humble nature of Korea pottery and also the talent and craft of a master artisan.
To read more about Korean potters and their pottery, please visit our post on this blog from June 21st, 2010.
To purchase pottery by Park Jong Il, please visit our website: http://www.cooksshophere.com/products/tea/tea-necessities/Teapots.htm
Photographs of Park Jong Il courtesy of Arthur Park – http://dawan-chawan-chassabal.blogspot.com/