Last week Mark took us to Washington D.C. to visit the Freer and Sackler Galleries.
In addition to seeing the current exhibits, we visited the storage facilities of each museum. In the storage facility, accompanied by a curator, you can take out most pieces, handle them and take photos. One of the oldest pieces we took out was a Neolithic vase from Northern Thailand from 1000 B.C.E. The people that made these pieces have been dead for centuries, yet these pots survive. I was informed that they find a lot of ancient pottery shards in trash piles and old wells. (Note to self: if you really never ever want someone to see that ugly pinholed piece with the kiln goop droppings, you might want to dispose of it in several different places.)
A few of my favorites were the Shoji Hamada pieces (the big platter that I am holding, the plate, and the tea bowl). I had only see these in books, so it was quite a thrill to hold them. I also liked this tea bowl with bamboo decoration (bottom photo), artist unknown from the Edo period. This Shigaraki tea bowl (top photo) was another one of my favorites. The Sackler gift shop had a fabulous selection of books on ceramics. I purchased Shigaraki: Potters’ Valley,
published in 1979 and reprinted in 2000, by Louise Cort, curator of ceramics at the Freer and Sackler galleries. It contains a lot of information on tea-ceremony wares as well as a complete ceramic history of the Shigaraki area of Japan.