seated cross-legged figure wearing draping robe with open front with U shaped neckline; hands in lap, inside sleeves; figure wears necklace, ornament in hair, and bindi; hair in topknot beneath headscarf; stamp on underside; white

Hokō-porcelain Kannon, February 1920

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Born into the family of a soy-sauce producer, Itaya first became interested in ceramics as a child owing to a father who practiced the Japanese tea ceremony. Itaya was particularly fascinated by the tea bowls used in the ceremony from which to drink tea. Later, he went to the Tokyo Fine Arts School and studied sculpture because the university did not offer ceramics courses at the time. After college, he established his own kiln and won accolades for his works. In 1953, Itaya became the first ceramicist to receive the Order of Culture. He was also nominated as a Living National Treasure in 1960 but declined.

Itaya developed an underglazing technique called hokō, which translates to “enveloping the light.” The hokō matte glaze gives the kannon a mellow, glowing quality, as if the sculpture is glowing from within. The realistic representation of the drapery underscores Itaya’s training in sculpture at university. Kannon is the bodhisattva of compassion, and is one of the most popular and commonly depicted Buddhist figures in Japan.

Details
Title
Hokō-porcelain Kannon
Artist Life
1872 - 1963
Role
Artist
Accession Number
2021.53
Curator Approved

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seated cross-legged figure wearing draping robe with open front with U shaped neckline; hands in lap, inside sleeves; figure wears necklace, ornament in hair, and bindi; hair in topknot beneath headscarf; stamp on underside; white
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