Discover 'yakishime' pottery, which combines Japanese history and craft


The exhibit features 96 ceramic works, including Tanaka Tomomi's 'Core' (2006), pictured on the right. Photo: The Japan Foundation, Kuala Lumpur

If you have never been to Universiti Malaya's Museum of Asian Art, then the Yakishime – Earth Metamorphosis exhibition, which opened today, is good reason to check out an international showcase on the university grounds in Kuala Lumpur.

The exhibit - featuring 96 works - offers visitors an array of Japanese traditional ceramic craft and art.

Part of The Japan Foundation's "Travelling Exhibition Programme", this show presents the history of yakishime, charting the evolution of these ceramics, which are produced by firing unglazed wares at high temperatures.

Approximately 20 permanent travelling exhibitions are on the road throughout the year, appearing in over 100 art galleries, museums and cultural facilities.

A view of the 'Yakishime – Earth Metamorphosis' exhibition at Universiti Malaya's Museum of Asian Art in Kuala Lumpur. Photo: The Japan Foundation, Kuala LumpurA view of the 'Yakishime – Earth Metamorphosis' exhibition at Universiti Malaya's Museum of Asian Art in Kuala Lumpur. Photo: The Japan Foundation, Kuala Lumpur

"Yakishime production began in the late 12th century at the Bizen, Tokoname, Shigaraki, and other pottery centres drawing on the tradition of Sue wares, which dates back to the fourth or fifth century," outlines the exhibit's notes.

Yakishime - Earth Metamorphosis examines the origins and early days of this stoneware technique in the late 12th century, and how these ceramics eventually became treasured tea wares in the Momoyama period (1568-1615).

Yakishime wares are produced in a variety of forms and include some works with natural glazes due to ash falling on them during firing. Their long history continues today, with yakishime a familiar part of everyday life.

Shimizu Mayumi's bowl and cups (2015). Photo: The Japan Foundation, Kuala LumpurShimizu Mayumi's bowl and cups (2015). Photo: The Japan Foundation, Kuala Lumpur

The works exhibited also include modern day representations in the form of innovative styles that go beyond the conventional concept of yakishime, whether in utilitarian reinterpretations like food vessels, or objets d'art.

Additionally, the exhibition places yakishime in the context of tea ceremony and washoku (Japanese cuisine), to communicate a distinctively Japanese sensibility and aesthetic to visitors, including those who are unfamiliar with these wares.

The exhibition, which ends on Nov 25, is running on weekdays. Opening hours are 9am-5pm (Monday-Friday), with a lunch break from 1pm-2pm (Monday-Thursday) and 12.15pm-2.45pm (Friday). Free admission.

More info here.


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