Thursday, October 24, 2013

Park Jong Il’s Chawan

 Image by Joan Martin a Tour Guest
Recently I received some images of chawan (teabowls) from Park Jong Il.  We introduced him a few years ago to the Western tea world and his teapots have gained considerable attention internationally.  Several of you have asked about chawan so I asked him to send me images of some moderately priced examples.  He had been having some difficulty getting images of his work to me over the years so I suggested that he simply use his cell phone.  Well, really it is a smart phone.  Using a smart phone in this way is an easy and efficient way to share images.  I’ve been doing it ever since I moved up to a smart phone and it has helped clients quickly view various options.  In fact I have a ‘smart phone’ sale of Park Jong Il’s tea ware now.  Of course we can also use email for the same purpose. 
When we select a chawan, it is like choosing anything that you want to be part of your life for a long time.  It is like selecting a puppy, mantle clock or even a friend.  What are you looking for?  Each of us comes to that decision from our own place with our own goals.   What I might respond to may not be what you would respond to because we may be looking for different things. 
Park Jong Il is best known for his teapots. While his teapots are usually consistent and recognizable as uniquely his, his chawan are different.  In a real sense his chawan are like a group of people that might attend a gathering to celebrate tea.   Some are masculine, some are feminine, some are more rugged than others – I think you get the picture. 
Park Jong Il takes that approach because he understands that a chawan must serve people individually and each person must find in their personal chawan an energy that compels them to return again and again.  Sure you may use a single chawan for group Tea but the one serving selects the bowl.  This is not to say that there are not or should not be certain criteria for exceptional chawan but untimately it is your decision.  Please view all of this post before you make your decision.  

Lets look at Park Jong Il’s chawan.
I will begin with those I consider simple and progress to the more complex.  Each bowl lists for $300.00.   A fair price for quality chawan. Contact me for details and your special price.

PJI 1  9 cm H 15 cm W
This open chawan is a classic example following one of Korean traditional forms.  It is made with Jerisan clay, as are all of these bowls, considered by Korean ceramic artists to be the best clay for teabowls.  Park Jong Il used this same clay for the walls of his home and tea gallery.  It is glazed with a feldspathic glaze and fired with wood. This like many excellent bowls will age when used.  In 3-5 years of use and care this bowl will blossom.  But from the beginning it will be a pleasure to use.  It fit the hands beautifully.

Click on images to enlarge.
The bowl is deep dropping below the top of the foot ring.  Notice the double swell in this bowl - a traditional Korean form. The foot has the appropriate 'nipple'.  This bowl is made to serve and will serve well.     

PJI 2  9 cm H 15 cm W
This bowl flawless.  It was glazed with the same glaze as the previous bowl but fired in a slightly cooler area of the wood kiln.  Kissed by the flame with a strong bamboo knot foot, this bowl stands tall and strong. 

The deep bowl and strong quickly tooled foot make this a very compelling bowl.  Read more about this bowl here.

PJI 3  9 cm H 15 cm W
A deep quickly formed ‘gqey-yl’ buncheong bowl fired with wood, subtle in color is always enticing to tea connoisseurs.  This bowl is a fine example of that.  Its light pale orange 'flesh' color like the two earlier bowls is a desired color.
When you fire with wood, you put yourself in the hands of the ‘spirit of the kiln’.  Some pieces will be flashed with fire, some will be more matte than others, some may have ash spots etc.  It is part of the ‘dance’ with the outer powers influencing ones work that makes the creation of chawan so fascinating and intriguing.

The bowl is deep, the foot is strong and quickly turned.  This is a bowl worth your consideration. 
PJI 4 has been removed

 PJI5  10 cm H 13 cm W
This strong, quickly formed ‘tum-bung-mun’ buncheong  chawan is another classic bowl with a classic finish.  This time another type of 'buncheong'.   Tum-bung-mun simply means that the bowl was dipped in 'slip' (a liquid clay).  The term 'gqey-yl', used earlier, refers to brushing the slip.  The term 'buncheong' is a modern term used to explain a number of different decorating processes where the use of slip was employed in various ways.  Two of the more popular processes are 'gqey-yl' or brushed slip and ‘tum-bung-mun’ or dipped slip.
The story of buncheong is a long one and often confusing.  I'll tell it on one of my blogs some day.  Buncheong processes were most popular between 1392 CE and 1592 CE when Korea was invaded and many ceramic artists were captured and taken east during the Imjin War.

The bowl is deep, the foot is strong and quickly tooled.  This bowl with its Korean decorating process fits the Korean 'Pungnyu' aesthetic philosophy with its natural unrestrained movement - like the flow of wind.

PJI 6  9 cm H 15 cm W
Now we move to a different glaze - ash.  Wood ash or really most ashes are a natural glaze.  The first glazes were essentially ashes and water dating back to the Han Dynasty.  Ash glazes are another highly desirable finish for a chawan.  But one must rely on those 'outer powers' I mentioned earlier.  In this case the ash mottling is beautiful.

The bowl is deep falling below the top of the outer foot, the ash pattern beautiful, the 'bamboo knot' foot is strong and quickly tooled.  What more can be asked of an ash glazed chawan? Beautiful.

 PJI 7  10 cm H 12 cm W
This is another ash glazed chawan.  I wanted to show three sides of the same bowl because the bowl's surface varies so much and because Park Jong Il sent me so many sides of it.  Like PJI 5, this is a strong quickly formed bowl capturing the movement of the wheel.  It also fits the Korean 'Pungnyu' aesthetic philosophy with its natural unrestrained movement - like the flow of wind.
The bowl is deep, the foot is strong and quickly tooled -   another great chawan example by Park Jong Il. 
Each bowl is listed at $300 USD, a very fair price for quality chawan.  But it may be possible that your price could be less.  All bowls are currently still in Korea and shipping is not included.  However, we may be able to negotiate both the price and shipping costs a little so contact me if you are interested in a chawan by Park Jong Il.        
I cannot leave this post without a further attempt at explaining the Korean aesthetic philosophy of Pungnyu at least a little more.   Although any short explanation like this probably does the term more disservice than service.  Pungnyu is not limited to 'movement' as illustrated in PJI 5 and PJI 7.  Pungnyu's meaning is much deeper and varied.  Like the wind itself, the aesthetics of Pungnyu can be calm and serene or a raging torrent.  Korean aesthetics principles involve those things that are natural and 'free'.  In a sense the fact that Park Jong Il is not tied down to one style of chawan indicates that he is embracing that philosophy.      

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