21 Dec 2011

A pot is a pot

Was mulling over Grimmly's post, while listening to a BBC radio podcast.  I learnt that Japan was the first place in the world to make clay pots.  16,500 years ago to be precise. 

These people were most likely the first people to eat and make a stew..of sorts.

The first pots were decorated with twisted string patterns.  The designs would change consistently every 25 years.  The archaeologist said that even to this day Japanese culture stresses continuity through change.  Continuity through change seems so very contradictory.

Still, for 16,500 years, there is a strong pot making tradition in Japan.  There have been constant changes but a pot is still a pot.   This pot (Image from here) is an ancient Jomon pot but had gold leaf applied inside and was used in Tea Ceremonies in the 18th Century.

It made me think of Ashtanga changing with each generation.  Minors tweaks, additions, subtractions.  but the general form, function and essence remain.

Sometimes to get too bogged down could be seen as an attachment to tradition, no?  Of course it is good to often go back to the source, if things get too distorted and a pot is no longer a pot we would have problems.  I'm sure a lot of potters study the Jomon era pots, just as we all go back to the Yoga Mala, Krishnamacharya's teachings, and the ancient texts, keep things authentic.  Keeping as it is yet ever changing.


  1. I love this analogy! And such a beautiful pot. Japan blows me away with their aesthetic. Happy and Merry to you!

  2. I think I could ruminate on this one for a bit. I also like the analogy a lot... I feel like if I took it just a little further, I'd hit something I need to hit, but it's too early in the morning to do so. I just keep getting to the existential question of whether a rice cooker is a pot :)

  3. ahaa I obviously didn't take this far enough, yes, I wonder, is the rice cooker a pot, functionally yes, no?

  4. 'I'm sure a lot of potters study the Jomon era pots, just as we all go back to the Yoga Mala, '

    I like this, had this image of all these modern potters, students perhaps, making these way out pots, some so way out that they no longer have bottoms to them, no longer able to contain anything. One morning their teacher takes them to the museum, just as a reminder....
    Yoga Mala a reminder rather than a proscription, yeah, like that.

  5. Thanks, Grimmly - I think you just got where I was trying to go...

  6. Yes, that's exactly it Grimmly-san!