FUJIWARA KEI (1899-1983)
Bizen incense burner with turtles on cover
Unglazed stoneware with original box
3 7/8 x 3 3/8 in.
Potter’s mark: Artist’s mark (incised on lower body)
Outer Box Title: Bizen kame no kōro; Bizen Turtle Incense Burner (on outer box)
Sealed: Artist’s seal
Inner Box Title: Bizen kame no kōro; Bizen Turtle Incense Burner
Like his teacher Kaneshige Tōyō, Fujiwara Kei (1899-1983) only began his pursuit of the study of ancient ceramic traditions at the age of forty, after a career as a writer and poet. For his education in Bizen ware, Fujiwara looked to Kaneshige Tōyō, who had famously recreated long-lost ancient techniques with great success. Soon thereafter, he began to make his own mark in the field of Bizen ceramics. Known in his later years for animal-form functional works, most especially turtles, his playful kogo (incense boxes) and koro (incense burners) reveal his love of storytelling. Fujiwara was known for his warm-hearted ceramics that found generous expression in the Bizen style. In 1970, he was designated a Living National Treasure for Bizen ware, the second after his teacher. He became the first honorable citizen of Bizen, and in 1976, the Fujiwara Kei Museum opened in Bizen. His son, Fujiwara Yū (1932-2001), also a LNT, and grandson, Fujiwara Kazu (b. 1958), have carried on their patriarch’s legacy.
For similar works:
Gendai no Tōgei Vol. 7. Tokyo: Kodansha, 1976, p. 29.
Hayashiya, Seizō ed. Gendai nihon no tōgei, dai nanamaki: dentō to sōzō no ishō (Contemporary Japanese Ceramics), vol. 7: Designs of Tradition and Creation). Tokyo: Kōdansha, 1984, p. 29, pl. 12.