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Japanese and Korean Ceramics and the "Pottery War"

The Imjin War was a failure to capture territory but succeeded in capturing for Japan Korean ceramics and culture.
by

EJ Jones

on 4 December 2012

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Transcript of Japanese and Korean Ceramics and the "Pottery War"

Imjin War and it's results on Korean and Japanese Pottery The "Ceramics War" Overview of the Invasions Thesis In 1592 Toyotomi Hideyoshi invaded Korea to try and create a route for further invasion into China. And yes, historians all think by this point he was bat shit crazy to come up with such an idea. Crazy or not though he controlled Japan's military so his dreams became at foreign policy and Korea was invaded. The invasion failed, so he tried again in a second one. This second invasion likewise failed but lead to the capture of Koreans who were taken back to Japan. The Japanese weren't picky about who was taken and both farmers, artisans, and even scholars were among those forcibly taken to Japan after the invasion. This influx especially of scholars and artisans lead to a boom in Japanese culture, and the loss hurt Korean culture and science.

Potters especially were targets of Japanese capture leading to the nickname of the 'Ceramics' or 'Pottery' War for the invasions. Korean Pottery Greatly influenced by Chinese ceramics and Chinese Confucianism, Korean pottery included celadon as well the simple white porcelain claimed to be a representation of Confucian ideas.

Korean stoneware, buncheong, was also a popular style that replaced celadon in the 16th century.

Common everyday pottery of bowls could be exported as high class items to Japan where they were in high demand for tea ceremony (more on that later). Ordering of bowls could be done by the Korean potters making paper copies of what was planned, sending them to Japan to be approved, then creation of the actual bowls. White Porcelain Korean Celadon The invasion of Korea and subsequent capture of Korean artisans and intellectuals lead to great changes to both nations especially in regards to the field of ceramics. Raku ware Hagi ware Japanese Pottery Pottery did exist in Japan before the influx of Koreans but no proper porcelain (first Japanese porcelain Imari ware was founded by Yi Sam-pyeong). It was after the coming in of Koreans though that the Japanese ceramics industry really took off into a huge variety of styles which were for use either in tea ceremony, like Hagi ware, or export, like Satsuma ware. Japanese Tea Ceremony "'First, Raku. Second, Hagi. Third, Karatsu." The demand for pottery was fed largely by the growing popularity of tea ceremony. The period in which the invasions took place was near the height of tea ceremony development with Sen no Rikyu, considered the founding father of modern tea ceremony, having died only the year before. While alive he worked with Chojiro, a potter from either China or Korea, to create raku ware which became the most popular style for tea ceremony followed by Hagi and Karatsu which were both started by Korean artisans. Unlike Satsuma ware which was intended for export tea ceremony pottery was more simple rather than decorative to go along with the feeling of wabi.

Tea ceremony was a way for the upper class of Japan to show culture and refinement and had been gaining popularity in the highest levels of Japanese government. Sen no Rikyu was the personal tea master of both Nobunaga and Hideyoshi as well as a close confident of Hideyoshi. Karatsu ware Imari ware Koishiwara ware Agano ware Satsuma ware Takatori ware Ryumonji ware Buncheong Conclusion The intake of Korean artisans lead to great development in Japan, in the realm of pottery but elsewhere as well since Japan also gained movable printing block press from its invasion of Korea. Korea meanwhile had to relearn many techniques since the masters were kidnapped as well as because of the general devastation wrought by the Japanese.

Korean culture though is proven to be highly valued at this time by these kidnappings. In pottery and other regions as well Korea has shaped things considered to be intimately Japanese showing just how interwoven the two countries have become in the development of each other.
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