This Japanese Aka and Kuro 楽焼 Raku-yaki Kogo Incense Case Lidded Box of an Ox was made by famous potter Shoraku Sasaki. It is a wonderful qka and kuro or red and black Raku-yaki kogo. Kogos are small Japanese boxes used primarily in the tea ceremony for placing incense in, also in the temple, and private temples of the Japanese household. They make wonderful decorative items for the home and placing small items in. It is inscribed on the bottom by the potter. The motif molded on top is that of an ox no doubt representing the year of the ox. It is by a well-known 1st class Japanese potter named Shoraku Sasaki III of Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture, Japan. It is approximately 30 years old according to the seller from Japan. The kogo is inscribed by the potter and the box is signed by him. It is the original box for the item and very important to its value. It is in excellent condition, no cracks or chips.
SIZE: Width bilaterally 2.0 inches or 5.08 cm, Height 1.6 inches or 4.06 cm,
Weight 100 g + Signed box 70 g Total 170 grams
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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. From eyakimono Raku first, Hagi second, Karatsu third. This is an old tea adage here in Japan and still holds true to an extent even today.
There are various Raku substyles, including Chojiro Raku, Koetsu Raku, and Aka-Raku 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.
There is other noteworthy history and information about Raku ware including additional information from Robert Yellins eyakimono or his other site, Japanese Pottery.