Oribe ware

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Oribe ware dish with lid in fan-shape, stoneware green and black glazed, early Edo period, c. 1600
Cornered bowl, Edo period, 17th century
Oribeguro kutsugata chawan, early Edo period, c. 1620

Oribe ware (織部焼, Oribe-yaki) is a type of Mino ware, which is traditionally made in Tajimi, Japan. It was developed and named after Lord Furuta Oribe (1544–1615), who introduced vivid patterns and colours (especially green copper glaze) to a somber tradition.

Artists specializing in Oribe ware include Yasuo Tamaoki (b. 1941) and Osamu Suzuki (b. 1934; 鈴木藏), who was designated a Living National Treasure in 1994. Suzuki Goro (b. 1941; 鈴木五郎) is a modern artist who works in Oribe ware amongst others,[1][2][3][4][5] as well as Shigeru Koyama.[6][7] The Museum of Furuta Oribe in Kyoto opened in 2014 and exhibits a number of Oribe ware.


Oribe ware, invented in Japan in 1605, introduced vivid patterns and colours to previously somber, monochromatic ceramics tradition. Oribe ware vessels were used primarily for serving food and drinking tea. The glossy black or brilliant green glazes and varied patterns made them a shimmering addition to 17th-century dining trays and tearooms. Oribe employed a major technological advance in ceramics, the Motoyashiki multi-chamber climbing kiln. This new technology allowed potters to melt glazes to dazzling translucency and made the dramatic new appearance possible.

The new aesthetic of the irregular, popularized by Oribe, went beyond the tea bowl. Dishes for serving food were flattened, irregular shapes that could not be made on a wheel and were instead made over a mold. They were also designed with geometric patterns.

Oribe ware is most identifiable for its use of green copper glaze and bold painted designs. It was the first use of colored stoneware glaze by Japanese potters. Oribe was supposedly influenced by the green ware introduced from China, but adapted it for local tastes. This color was rarely used previously and took many of his contemporaries by surprise.


Originally, designs of irregular shapes in Mino ware were coincidental; either it became warped on a potter’s wheel or during the firing process. In traditional Japanese aesthetics, irregularities are considered a part of nature. An irregular design may seem more natural and convey warmth and softness and fragility, in accordance with wabi-sabi.[8] Also, the design would look different from every angle and users could observe it in many ways, not only visually but also by touch. A perfectly symmetrical shape, on the other hand, would usually be seen as artificial or cold. The kutsugata chawan (沓形茶碗) is a typical form that follows these principles.[9][10]

At some point irregularities began to be made intentionally.[11] Clay typically has a low-iron content and is formed into a shape gradually by hand on a wheel. Once curves are added using fingers, the surface is carved dynamically with a spatula. Pieces may be taken out by boldly scraping away at the vessel's surface, and can create powerful visual effects.

For production of flat food vessels with irregular shapes that cannot be made on wheels, a range of different drape moldings are used. This technique is unusual because molds are rarely used in pottery, as they break up symmetry and create irregularities. Such characteristics are nonetheless desirable in Oribe ware, as mentioned before. A sheet of clay is applied over a piece of fabric and pressed against the mold.

Different types of glazes and patterns developed have included:

  • Green Oribe (青織部, Ao-Oribe), a ceramic with classical green glaze and underglaze painting. Green is the typical colour of Oribe ware, along with white.[12] The original Chinese green was a smooth, even colour like celadon. Oribe, however, tried to use different shades of more natural green, in order to reflect green mountains or riverside scenes. The surface is painted and decorated with lively surface designs, which may be based on nature, geometric patterns, or a combination of the two. For the brilliant green color, wares are fired using oxidation at 1220 degrees Celsius.
  • Red Oribe (鳴海織部, Narumi-Oribe), made of white and red, or iron-bearing clay, and decorated with green glaze. Appears sometimes brown or orange in colour
  • General, or green Oribe (総織部, Sō-Oribe), uniformly green glazed ceramics[13]
  • Black Oribe (黒織部, Kuro-Oribe), black glazed ceramics with unglazed spots, sometimes decorated with paintings[14][15]
  • Shino-Oribe (志野織部) was originally the precursor to Shino ware, which, unlike old Shino ceramics, is fired in modern multi-chamber hangers

There is much variation in the type of ware as well as the surface treatment in Oribe pottery. Like many types of Japanese pottery, bowls and dishes are common.[16][17] Oribe wares also include lidded jars and handled food containers. Many Japanese chefs still use Oribe green for their cuisine.[18] A green coloured glaze is considered visually complementary for traditional foods such as white or red fish or seafood. Food can be arranged on either the green or white side of the plate to create visual harmony and thus be aesthetically pleasing.



Further reading[edit]

  • Turning Point: Oribe and the Arts of Sixteenth-Century Japan. Metropolitan Museum of Art. Yale University Press, 2003, ISBN 0-300-10195-3.
  • Takeshi Murayama, Ryoji Kuroda. Classic Stoneware of Japan: Shino and Oribe Hardcover. Kodansha. (2002). ISBN 978-4770028976
  • Ryoichi Fujioka. Shino and Oribe Ceramics. Kodansha. (1977). ISBN 978-0870112843
  • Takeshi Murayama. Oribe (Famous Ceramics of Japan). Kodansha. (1983). ISBN 978-0870115301

External links[edit]

Media related to Oribe ware at Wikimedia Commons