Tea Bowls 1 by Richard Milgrim

The chawan, or tea bowl, is, of all the tea utensils, the most familiar to Westerners and yet its significance is rarely appreciated. In its primary role as the direct connection between host and guest, it can transcend its function and take on a spirit of its own. As these bowls are used over time they mature and improve. They are sometimes bestowed with poetic names by the artist/potter, the bowl’s owner or a figure in the world of Tea who commands authority, such as the Grand Master of one of the many schools of Tea. This name would embellish the custom-made paulownia wood box which bears the signature and stamp of the artist/potter who made it along with a brief label. All these aspects lend to the “aura” which can emanate from a chawan.

In creating each chawan my goal is to enhance the multi-sensory experience one enjoys as they cradle the bowl with both hands to drink from it, stimulating the eyes, hands and lips of the guest. This experience continues after the tea has been finished when it is considered proper etiquette to thoroughly examine all aspects of the bowl before returning it to one’s host.

Chawan are undoubtedly the most popular and commonly collected of all the various tea utensils, with some treasured bowls over 400 years old still in use today.

Please enjoy the variety of shapes, glazes and designs for each unique bowl as you browse through this gallery.