Out of the four qualities a tea bowl should possess, purity is the one quality that is significantly less subjective – particularly when considering glaze and decoration.
White is the signifier of purity and virtue in many cultures – particularly in China where the lotus flower connects these qualities with white also.
Image resourced from The Gallery of China
But can other colours or shades be pure? Many ‘good’ tea bowls are decorated in more than one colour. So how can they possess the quality of purity with impure decoration?
Of course the subjectivity of the meaning of purity is still quite vast. Therefoe it needs much further investigation. In an attempt to initiate this I have begun to use colour glazes.
The following image depicts the use of pure black – the contrast of white – to help better understand and pinpoint what purity means for this investigation.