Pottery originating in Tamba, northwest of Kyoto (modern day Tachikui)
dates to the Heian period during the twelfth century. Possibly the most wholly Japanese of the classical kilns, the earliest Tamba ceramics displayed virtually no Chinese
or Korean influence in their forms and glazes.
Early examples display iron rich, coarse clays, which on firing would change to colours ranging from dark reds through to cool greyish blue tones depending on the makeup of the clay used and firing conditions in the kiln. Being set somewhat apart from the other old kilns, Tamba pottery did not develop along the same lines of innovation as its contemporaries, many of its best known surviving examples are of a purely utilitarian nature.
Although dishes, bowls, sake bottles and other ceramics for daily use have been found dating from Tambas earlier periods, large storage jars tend to be its best-known survivors. Typically formed with heavy walls, a generously bulging profile and a short neck leading to a slightly irregular mouth, these jars remained virtually unchanged in form for over 400 years.
While antique pieces remain highly collectible, having gained a dedicated following among ceramics connoisseurs and tea ceremony practitioners, Tamba pottery production has continued through to the 21st century, with contemporary artisans combining the highly variegated surface colours and textures of classical pieces with modern day aesthetics.
Contemporary Tamba pottery vase