Cerámica Wiki

Example of a lacquerware natsume.

Chaki (茶器) is a term that encompasses all the styles of tea caddy used in Japanese tea ceremony. Chaki are the vessels into which tea is placed before taking it into the tea room, and from which the tea is scooped into the tea bowl in preparation for serving. Chaki are not storage vessels, however; tea is not normally kept inside them.

Chaki are traditionally made of wood, bamboo, or ceramic, and are classified both by material and shape, as well as by the type of tea (thin or thick) they are designed to hold.

Styles and classification[]

In general, chaki can be divided into two broad categories: wood and ceramic. Ceramic and porcelain chaki are called cha-ire (茶入, "something into which tea is placed") or koi-chaki ("chaki for thick tea"), while wood and bamboo chaki are known as usu-chaki (薄茶器, "chaki for thin tea") or natsume (棗, "jujube", referring to the container's shape).

Both cha-ire and natsume are further classified according to country of origin, materials and shape, and in some cases by potter or, in special cases, a name given to the object.

Very important about pottery of tea ceremony is Cha-ire (tea leave container) and Cha-wan(large tea cup). While pottery made Cha-ire is usually for koi-cha (flavored powder green tea), urushi coated Natsume is for usu-cha (weak powder green tea). Lacquerware Natsume (look a like date) was first coated by a craftsman called Haneda Goro of Ashikaga period.

Usu-chaki / natsume[]

Archivo:Black natsume.jpg

A black lacquered natsume and bamboo tea scoop laid out in preparation for a traditional tea ceremony.

Broadly speaking, an usu-chaki is a wooden vessel with a lid, designed to hold powdered tea for making usucha (thin tea). Traditionally, usu-chaki are hand-carved from wood or bamboo, which may be lacquered or left untreated. They may also feature designs painted, applied, or carved into the vessel. Today, cheaper, mass-produced plastic usu-chaki are also available.

The name "natsume" comes from the natsume or jujube fruit, which some usu-chaki are said to resemble. Strictly speaking, the word natsume should only be used to refer to vessels which have the broad, flat top and narrow base that give them this name, but in practice any usu-chaki may be referred to as a natsume.

Since natsume are used for thin tea, they are the first chaki that a tea student learns to use.

History of natsume[]

Natsume may have evolved from small flower vases. Their use became popularized in the Edo era, due to the influence of Sen no Rikyu.

Natsume were preceded by other types of wooden tea containers,

Types of natsume[]

Natsume can be divided into three main types: large (大棗 ō-natsume), medium (中棗 chū-natsume) and small (小棗 ko-natsume). There is tremendous variation among the different sizes, however.

A typical natsume is of the medium or large type, and is lacquered in black or red.

In addition, there is flat type (平棗) of natsume of Sen-no-Rikyu favor. The flat lid is almost twice diameter of its height.


The most important pottery of the Cha-no-yu is first the Cha-ire and then the Cha-wan. It is said that among the military class the most precious possessions were first Tea-caddies, second writings and third swords. For this was the order in which they were presented by the Shogun to one he desired to honour.
-- A.L. Sadler.[1]

A cha-ire is a ceramic vessel with a small lid, designed to hold thick tea. The lid of a cha-ire is traditionally made from elephant ivory with a gold leafed underside, though today lids are usually created from other materials made to resemble ivory.

History of cha-ire[]

According to Sadler, cha-ire were originally used in China in the Song period as bottles for oil or medicine, and were imported into Japan for use as tea caddies up to the end of the Ashikaga or start of the Tokugawa era.[1]

Types of cha-ire[]

Cha-ire can be divided into two broad types: karamono and wamono (sometimes kokuyakimono). Karamono are cha-ire that originated in or are made to resemble those created in China, while wamono are those that originated in Japan. These can be further subdivided by kiln or potter as well as shape.


Karamono cha-ire are classified by shape:

  • Nasu (茄子): The "eggplant" cha-ire is a medium-sized vessel named for its shape, which resembles that of an aubergine. Other nasu types (whose shapes vary slightly) include the bunrin and the shifukura.
  • Katatsuki (肩衝): The "shoulder" cha-ire, the most common type, is a tall, narrow vessel named for its pronounced "shoulders" at the vessel's top. Any tall, narrow cha-ire may be called a katatsuki.
  • Marutsubo
  • Tai kai (大海): "Big ocean" or "wide mouth" cha-ire have a wide opening and are usually shorter than they are wide. A smaller sub-type of this cha-ire is known as nai kai.
  • Tsurukubi
  • Shirifukure


Wamono cha-ire are classified by the names of potters and kilns:

Provincial ware[]
  • Maemon
  • Rikyu
  • Genjuro
  • Oribe
  • Shidoro
  • Shimbei
  • Tojiro I, II, III, IV


  1. 1,0 1,1 Sadler, A.L. Cha-No-Yu: The Japanese Tea Ceremony. Tokyo: Tuttle, 1962, 66.

See also[]

  • List of Japanese tea ceremony utensils

External links[]