Tea Bowl Series—Amamori

August and September is the time of year that poets and Tea people love. Wabi style Tea comes into vogue and the Moon lends itself to the quiet mood that can be found in the Tea room. Even though the garden may be a riot of Fall colors, people feel nostalgic for saying goodbye to the Furo. Eventually the portable brazier will be put away. At this time special utensils are brought forth to grace the gatherings. Autumn showers and gray days lends themselves to the spirit of ‘Sabi-shi’ (the loneliness and sadness that comes with age and use. Grasses start to wither, and there is a nip in the air; a perfect time to enjoy a bowl of tea. At this time it is customary to bring out bowls and other items that might have been lovingly repaired with gold, red or brown lacquer. Other bowls hide a mystery in their glaze. They are called ‘Amamori’ which means water that has leaked from the roof onto the waddle and dob walls of a traditional Japanese house.The water stains the mud and changes its color. It is the secret of these bowls to possess the same quality. These bowls are prized for their ability to changes color, texture, and hue after soaking in a very warm bath for a few hours. It is also customary to use them in the Spring and early Summer during the rainy season. If one has the time and preparedness to soak bowls before the guests arrive, then the tea served in them will retain its heat. Such bowls are a great surprise for they can look very different from when they were dry. Care should be taken to use very pure water with a towel lined bucket for soaking. The towel should have been boiled and dried first to take out any scents given by detergents. They should be gradually warmed so that they do not suffer or brake from thermal shock. These types of bowls are usually low fired and have a tendency to hold on to odors. Only Tea should be drunk out of them.

Many bowls of this nature are quite famous for their cloudy face changing character. The color of the glaze is altered by very small cracks from which water can seep in. Hagi bowls, Ido bowls, and some Raku bowls can change color from this process. Every bowl used for Tea deserves a good bath every now and again. Upon soaking some of my bowls I was delightfully shocked to discover that I had three such ‘Amamori’ bowls. After use, it is cleaned with nothing but hot water and a chakin cloth. Then it is put in a place safe from people, cats, small children, dogs, etc. at room temperature. It must dry for three or four days- maybe longer. It must return to its original color before being stored away in its box. Otherwise it will get moldy and start to smell. These bowls need a bit of extra care but are well worth it. They hide their true personality; only revealing it to those who take the time and care for them with respect.

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