Kumano Kuroemon ( Abrief introduction by Ken Jeremiah)
Shino pottery emerged in the 16th century in Mino Province, modern-day Gifu Prefecture, and is now world-famous due to its beauty. Made from durable clay, brushed with iron oxide, and covered with white glaze, its pieces are admired and valued. Some of the most valuable pieces are made by the enigmatic Kumano Kuroemon. Reclusive, he lives in the mountains near Echizen, Fukui Prefecture, where he has his own private kiln. Yearly, he scours the surrounding mountains for suitable clay, which he shapes into incredible bowls, vases, and more. After applying his own glaze variation, he fires them at an incredible 1520 degrees Celsius, often foregoing sleep for an entire week to constantly regulate the heat. Most artists would not think of firing a piece at such a high temperature, as it would cause pieces to buckle, distend, or lose their solidity. It renders most glazes useless. They become discolored and unsightly, or they just run off the clay. However, Kumano's pieces can withstand such heat. He uses a perfect combination of clay, glaze and temperature, which has a spiritual significance for him. The same temperature found inside a volcano, the kiln is the miniature volcanic environment in which the alchemical process of creation occurs. Kumano said, "I see fire as an amorphous being, one that can change into any shape. It is alive, and fears nothing. In a small space, like a kiln, it reveals its true power and essence." His approach, skill, and attention to the most important element in the creation of pottery, fire, leads to ineffable beauty. Paying attention to the wind, humidity, and the wood burned inside the kiln, Kumano waits outside, listening to the sounds echoing from within, and making adjustments when necessary. Inside, natural ash upon purplish clay produces an incredible array of reds and greens, cobalt and divine turquoise, all blending together harmoniously with characteristic white shino glaze. Living alone, and with no suitable successor, his pieces are one of a kind. Unique and without comparison, Kumano's works epitomize the beauty of modern Shino wares.