An Ode to the Water Bowl..

I think the water bowl to be central to Gong Fu.

Most concentrate their affections only on the teapot for it changes the quality of the tea, after all a water bowl only receives the spent tea and leaves.

Having said that the Waterbowl is still the most used object in the teadrinking ritual, as one changes teapots and cups far more that one does a water bowl.

As an object of contemplation, it captures the memory of the tea session.

This object has something communal about it.

One could say the Teapot is a direct extension of the brewer whereas the water bowl sits as a neutral entity, a witness to the proceedings..

It does not get the 'white gloves' -'special treatment' like a fine Chawan does, a bowl that hardly ever gets used.
After six months or a year of daily usage the water bowl looks aged, mellowed and appears more serene.

Raw, alive with leaf, crackled, crazed, patinated it is as if a well loved waterbowl almost has lichen growing out of it.

Often I find myself thinking I could pick it up and drink that dirty water up in one gulp ..
like an unkept mongol warrior !
hardly Gong fu etiquette..
but the waterbowl seems so inticing sometimes..

I am also so surprised how the person who uses it transforms it.

Blue Celadon 50/50 cornish Clay to Ming style porcelain.
This shape is inspired by korean ritual water dishes which were used in weekly ritual by Korean families to remember their loved ones of generations past.
The dish became a heirloom to be past on and used by the new generations to remember the old.

This one is kind of special, (no chuckling David..) the first time I opened the kiln I did not like these 'wine stained bowls' but this esthetic it is growing on me. No copper has been used on this bowl, the plum marks are a reaction of the Beech ash to a very heavy reduction atmosphere in the kiln.

And one of my favorites made with a warm pine woodash celadon

6 commentaires:

David a dit…

Simply wonderful.

Michel a dit…

Thanks David,

especially coming from you,
we will have to meet up some day for some T.

Which one is your favorite?

Stephane a dit…

I have more bowls than I have teapots or even cups! The bowls give me more flexibility to be creative in making a good match in my Cha Xi.

And it's true that I become attached to these bowls as I use them! I still have one like this that you sent me. I love its deep blue color and its sense of strength and stability.

Michel a dit…

may others follow your lead..

I love making bowls.
Still a novice potter bowls are what I do best, I leave teapots to the more experienced potters, for this year any way..

lionel a dit…

You are a great artist Michel.
My favorite is the one with plum marks...I like the flat shape a lot.
I must admit I am a Teapot lover, much more than a bowl lover...but seing such pieces could make me change my mind...

Do you make smaller bowls like these, to use as a bowl to drink tea ? I am sure this could fit my morning sencha very well...

Michel a dit…


Your wish is my command.

Teabowls are intended to fit in the hand, they are ruled by different laws than waterbowls.

Similar laws but very different never the less.
Only one in three of my bowls have the special quality for a water bowl, as for a teabowl one in five maybe ...

Waterbowls that are not quite there can easily be sold off as tableware, a not quite so good teabowl ends up as a peanut holder or more of the time in the 'poubelle'(french for bin)