To Tougei (or to Mingei)

Japan has an ancient tradition of making pottery, that goes way back into the mists of millennia.... OK, I'll stop there. Over the past couple of years I have had the pleasure of learning traditional pottery, tougei (陶芸, lit. pottery art, ceramic art). My teacher is in Tokorozawa and has a couple of kilns, including a nobori-gama that I hope we will use one day - it's wooden fire gives the most interesting hues without using glazes. I also make my own stuff here at home in Hanno, which I fire at a friend's place in Ogama, Chichibu, western Saitama. We are thinking of building a nobori-gama there, too, in the forest.

Mingei (民芸, lit. folk art) is a popular movement with museums all over Japan, many that display pottery items and local ceramics, especially those made by unknown potters, masters in their own right, but guys and gals who didn't have the kind of luck to make pieces for rich people, but for the benefit of us ordinary folks. I'm a bit unsure where I would fall in that distinction - is my stuff tougei or mingei? Or both?

I do sell a lot, especially at the Nippori market in Tokyo twice a month, and also at events. I'm being nudged by others (P, I'm looking at you) to set up an Ebay account or something similar. It would be great to see how far the Internet can take my sales.

All the items below have been sold, but there will be more to come soon! (Click to enlarge)


Pandabonium said…
Tougei or Mingei? Definitely both. What you sell is tougei. What is left over is mingei. Either way you are an artist.

When I perform on the trombone and am paid, I am a "professional". When I perform in a community band or orchestra for free I am an "amateur". Similar concept.

Professional or amateur, I am always a "student".

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