These wood ash-glazed mingei tea bowls have currently all gone from the table ... we are trying to persuade the anonymous maker to send us some more!
Price? Pay what you think is right ...
Pay what you think you are worth ...
In Japan in the early 20th century a movement developed called Mingei the essence of the movement was an interest in drawing the unique art work from a mass produced craft objects. There were a number of rules
The maker must be anonymous
The object must be in everyday use
The object must be low cost hand produced
The collector/connoisseur selects the special/perfect work
Works selected and classified as Meingei are extremely valuable, there is a beautiful meingei museum in Tokyo (www.meingei-khan.jp) The movement has corrupted and now it is the maker that is important in the valuing of the object. In Japan the most senior makers are designated â€˜Living National Treasuresâ€™ and all the objects they make are highly priced for example a bowl like these ones would cost in the region of Â£5,000
The art of selecting â€˜the oneâ€™ is easy, itâ€™s the perfect bowl - the weight, the feel, the balance, colour, proportions and the vital ingredient - signs of the hand of the maker. These subjective qualities may differ from person to person â€“ a potter will be able to select almost instantly for the rest of us it may take a little longer
A contemporary equivalent of this idea can be found in the car industry where the production line produces the â€˜perfectâ€™ car approx every 10,000th one. This freak apparently occurs on all production lines whether mechanised or not.
Hence the value of an object is determined by who values it and how you and others value yourself, so if you are worth nothing then neither is your selection, so steal it.
A classic Japanese story from the Samurai period concerns a tea bowl, a simple humble but â€˜perfectâ€™ bowl that so obsessed two Samurai warlords that it was eventually exchanged for a castle.
Bowls once identified lead rarefied lives, used daily, kept in their own boxes and if broken rejoined with molten gold, consequently they increase in value, both monetary and arguably aesthetic.
These bowl are relatively valueless, they take minutes to make and use free materials, clay from the ground and ash from the fire, wood from the waste wood of the forest to fire them. The only arguably valuable ingredient is time
So itâ€™s all a bit like art then, intrinsically valueless unless endorsed. Equally you could apply these ideas to everything you purchase, in Japan fruit is also the subject of this notion of the selection of the â€˜perfectâ€™ and valued accordingly, a single apple can cost Â£10. Realistically we all do this when purchasing food, hence the drive to produce unblemished and perfect examples â€“ the Japanese concept allows for the â€˜perfectâ€™ blemish in much the same way that we might consider a beauty spot.