This is a Raku pottery kogo. It is a wonderful handmade kogo with the motif of a monkey dressed up as a priest and holding the blessing piece. At the time I purchased this I did not think to ask what it said on the bottom. It is inscribed by the artist on the bottom but I do not know what it says. This item is about 40- 50 years old. Kogos are boxes traditionally made for holding incenses at the tea ceremony, but make wonderful decorative items and for holding other small items. It is in excellent condition with no cracks or chips and some age wear, please see the pictures. 2016 is the year of the Monkeys in Japanese and Chinese Zodiac, there are 12 so the animals will re-occur every 12 preceding years, including 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, and 2004 during the 20th century. Based on what we were told from the seller in Japan, these kogo was probably made in 1968. Kagura is a common art motif used with a monkey, who represents a god of entertainment historically referring to a specific type of Shinto theatrical dance. I did not realize we still had several pieces missing pictures and have been going through the store for the last few months editing items and working on this, thank you for your patience. This kogo is signed, whereas the bottom left mark looks like part of the Raku kanji, we are missing something here so will need to get a friends assistance with interp in addition to the pictures. Please see the link in our Favorites on our homepage for 400 Years of history of Raku Ware.
Raku means 'enjoyment, comfort or ease', and is derived from Jurakudai, the name of a palace in Kyoto, that was built by Toyotomi Hideyoshi 1537–1598 who was the leading warrior statesman of the time.
Raku ware which originated in the 16th century, is a low-fired ceramic ware made in Kyoto by the Raku Family, a family dynasty that is respected for its outstanding tea bowls and tableware for use in the tea ceremony. The current Raku is Raku Kichizaemon XV. Raku ware also refers to ceramics made by amateur and professional potters in the tea community. 'Raku first, Hagi second, and Karatsu third' is an old adage in Japan related to ceremonial tea ware.
There are various Raku substyles, including Chojiro Raku, Koetsu Raku, and Aka-Raku or a reddish-brown raku. The latter is usually covered in iron oxide and a transparent glaze and then fired at low temperatures.
On the Raku company home page as an introduction the 450 years of history their founders and well known potters of their earliest years, it says quite beautifully: The tradition is not only to be maintained. What is essential in the tradition is eternally evolving through eyes of the present. What matters are those eyes that could perceive the tradition from the present perspective, which is a very proof of our existence.
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